CHAT 2014: Dark Modernities - Archaeologies of Totalitarianism, Authoritarianism, and Repression

The Annual Contemporary and Historical Archaeology in Theory (CHAT) Conference

31st October – 2nd November 2014
Museum of West Bohemia, Kopeckého sady 2, Pilsen, Czech Republic

Hosted by Department of Archaeology, University of West Bohemia, Pilsen

In recent years archaeology has succeeded in highlighting the importance of research into ‘dark’ or ‘difficult heritage’ and a number of projects have generated new insights into the mechanisms of state control and repression in the contexts of the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and the Cold War in Europe, as well as exposing the material remains of more recent crimes against humanity on other continents.

The Annual Contemporary and Historical Archaeology in Theory (CHAT) Conference 2014, hosted by the Department of Archaeology at the University of West Bohemia, Pilsen, will explore how archaeology may be used to enhance the documentation and interpretation of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, to advance theoretical approaches and methods, and to broaden the public dissemination and understanding of the topic. Our definition of authoritarianism is intentionally broad and may be extended to encompass forms of so-called ‘corporatist’ authoritarianisms, apartheid and other forms of ‘racial’ and ‘ethnic’ authoritarianism, regimes of illiberal rule associated with colonialisms as well as anti-authoritarian movements in both the recent and more distant past.

We are particularly keen to extend international contacts among recently established contemporary archaeology projects in Central Europe and expect colleagues from Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, and the Netherlands to attend and participate. We also hope that the 2014 CHAT conference will allow research from different academic disciplines and more distant locations to be presented and compared, including examples from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and South America.

Our conference theme of Dark Modernities focuses on the darker side of the recent and more distant past and its interpretation in the present. Contributions are welcome (but will not be limited) to the following topics:

  • Monumentality and the projection of individual/state power
  • Heritage, identities, and the materiality of atrocities
  • Concentration camps, forced labour camps, and confinement
  • Technologies and genealogies of oppression
  • Consumption and daily life
  • Forms of resistance expressed through art, music, literature
  • Racism and the institutionalization of ethnic discrimination
  • Processes of commemoration
  • Memorialisation and the shaping of visitation practices
  • Memorial museums and sites of memory
  • Landscapes and ‘terrorscapes’
  • The politics and praxis of the repatriation of human remains
  • Thanatourism, dark heritage and the commodification of death

Paper and poster submission has been closed!