We have planned 2 keynotes for this year’s CAA conference. To mark the momentous occasion of the 50th conference, we wanted to both reflect on the past and look into the future of computational archaeology. We have asked Hans Kamermans to delve into the history of the CAA, while Sara Perry will present alternative futures for digital archaeology. The full abstracts can be found below.
CAA: coming of age
Hans Kamermans, CAA Secretary 1994-2007
This year we celebrate CAA’s 50th birthday. 1973 the CAA conference was born in Birmingham and
in 50 years’ time grew from a local English meeting with 46 participants into a very successful annual
How this came to be? What was the role of the steering committee, why was participating so
attractive for scholars from outside the UK and what were the main topics presented at these
conferences? The emphasis will lay on the first 33 years, the period of coming of age. And especially,
since we celebrate this event in the Netherlands, what was the role of the Dutch?
Towards a ‘politics of refusal’ in digital archaeology: Transitioning from exceptionalism
and extraction to equity and sustainability
Dr Sara Perry, MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology)
The discipline of archaeology has long been implicated in wider trends of fetishizing and
exceptionalising digital technologies, of touting digital universalism and practicing forms of
digital and data colonialism. The cross-disciplinary critique of such practices is now vast
(e.g., Campolo and Crawford 2020; Milan and Treré 2019; Milner and Traub 2021), making
undeniable the depth of the injustice, violence and inequity perpetrated by those
developing, funding, applying, and marketing many computational systems. At once,
however, a growing body of practitioners situated at the intersections of science and
technology studies, human-computer interaction, critical data studies, feminist,
intersectional and anti-racist practices are involved in pushing back on, disrupting, and
eliminating such systems (e.g., Cifor et al. 2019; Ochigame 2020; Tyzlik-Carver 2021),
refusing to engage with them in myriad ways.
In this talk, inspired by such “politics of refusal” (after Crawford 2021), I explore what
resistance and transitions to alternative ways of practice look like in the case of digital
archaeology. Herein, computational archaeological approaches begin by centring the lived
experiences of those who are disempowered and harmed by both archaeology itself and the
digital systems that we deploy in its service. I present a series of case studies drawn from
my own and my collaborators’ work in academic, development-led, and citizen-led
archaeological contexts, each drawing on different techniques to destabilise and reconceive
power relations, including via use of shared living values, activities in social and collective
imagination, and commitments to democratic innovation. I pull together what I believe to
be complimentary paradigms, including Ricaurte’s (2019) concept of “epistemic
disobedience,” Loorbach (2022) and colleagues’ explorations of “radical transitions,” and
Dawson (2019) and colleagues’ (2020) investigations into spaces for “being yourself.” And I
make a case for specific alternative futures for digital archaeology—wherein our
programmes, their associated technologies and the infrastructures that support them are
designed and deployed by us in fashions which, following the work of Ricaurte (2019),
necessarily embed human dignity, justice, and respectful relations with the more-than-
human world at their core.
Campolo, Alexander, and Crawford, Kate (2020) Enchanted Determinism: Power without
Responsibility in Artificial Intelligence. Engaging Science, Technology, and Society 6, 1-19,
Cifor, Marika, Garcia, Patricia, Cowan, T.L., Rault, Jasmine, Sutherland, Tonia, Chan, Anita
Say, Rode, Jennifer, Hoffmann, Anna Lauren, Salehi, Niloufar, Nakamura, Lisa (2019).
Feminist Data Manifest-No. Retrieved from: https://www.manifestno.com/.
Crawford, Kate (2021) Atlas of AI: Power, Politics and the Planetary Costs of Artificial
Intelligence. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Dawson, Emily (2019) Equity, Exclusion and Everyday Science Learning. London: Routledge.
Dawson, Emily, Archer, Louise, Seakins, Amy, Godec, Spela, DeWitt, Jennifer, King, Heather,
Mau, Ada and Nomikou, Effrosyni (2020) Selfies at the Science Museum: Exploring Girls’
Identity Performances in a Science Learning Space. Gender and Education 32(5), 664-681,
Loorbach, Derk A. (2022) Designing Radical Transitions: A Plea for a New Governance
Culture to Empower Deep Transformative Change. City, Territory and Architecture 9, 30,
Milan, Stefania and Treré, Emiliano (2019) Big Data from the South(s): Beyond Data
Universalism. Television & New Media, 20(4), 319-335,
Milner, Yeshimabeit and Traub, Amy (2021) Data Capitalism and Algorithmic Racism. New
York: Data for Black Lives and Demos, https://datacapitalism.d4bl.org/#home
Ochigame, Rodrigo (2022) Informatics of the Oppressed. Logic 11,
Ricaurte, Paola (2019) Data Epistemologies, The Coloniality of Power, and Resistance.
Television & New Media 20(4), 350-365, https://doi.org/10.1177/1527476419831640
Tyzlik-Carver, Magda (2021) Curating Data: Infrastructures of Control and Affect … and
Possible Beyonds. Stages 9, https://www.biennial.com/journal/issue-9/curating-data-