Archaeologists Urged to make their Work more Relevant


President of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology (IACA), Dr. Jay Haviser has urged the region’s archaeologists to make their work more relevant to the masses, even as the emphasis shifts to a new course that demands an understanding of current cultures.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 22nd Congress of IACA, held at the Jamaica Conference Centre today (July 23), Dr. Haviser told the archaeologists to keep their work simple, relevant, and current.
“We have to understand the importance of relevancy of what we do as archaeologists in the Caribbean. We have to understand that it’s not only about our professional careers and doing the research and our digs. It’s about making it relevant to the very people that we are researching. That is the essence and purpose in fact, for what we do, and so we have to recognize that relevancy as part of our jobs,” he said.
He added that it was for that reason he had started youth programmes in several islands to involve young people in archaeology, some of whom were attending and would be presenting papers at this year’s Conference.
“Many times we speak an academic speak, and many times, the masses sometimes lose the ear, because we are speaking to each other and not so much to them.
Many times we need to realize that our publications have to be of academic quality and of a standard that we are working at, but at the same time, we need to have a parallel universe of publications and information distribution that is communicating to the masses,” the President said.
He said that Caribbean archaeologists, in the quest to make archeology more relevant to local populations, would unavoidably have to embark on new trajectories in the field, such as World War 2 and the study of Asian populations as archaeologists deal with an emerging “overlap between historical archaeology and anthropological understanding of current cultures.”
“One of the most dynamic archaeological phases of research that will happen for the Caribbean will be the archaeology of the World War Two period, which has now become archaeologically qualified as more than 50 years old. That period and those sites impacted the local population so enormously with the introduction of foreign cultures, the introduction of technologies, which is our world.the introduction of artifacts. In fact, if you think about it, what Roman Empire archaeology is to the Europeans, World War Two archaeology and American expansion of artifacts and cultural influence around the world will be to the world,” Dr. Haviser emphasized.
“We need to think that way,” he said, adding that attention must now turn to Asian populations.
“As an organization, we have a very long history of pre-historic and now a very strong history in African studies in the Caribbean. We have to also realize to include the Asian populations from an archaeological perspective,” he advocated.
Over 150 archaeologists from the English, French and Dutch countries in the Caribbean region are meeting in Kingston this week from July 23 to 29. Various country representatives will present over 90 papers and engage in discussion on such topics as the pre-ceramic age, the ceramic age, historical archaeology, underwater archaeology, physical anthropology, interaction spheres migration and adaptation, new approaches to Caribbean archaeology, and cultural resource management.
Among the topics up for discussion are: ‘The Archaeology of Enslavement, Abolition and Emancipation’, and the ‘Preservation of the Archaeological resources of the Caribbean’, in recognition of the fact that the island is commemorating the 200th year of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
The conference was declared open by Minister of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture, Aloun Ndombet-Assamba.

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