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The Genetics Revolution and Archaeological Theory Workshop

Can science accommodate multiple ontologies? The genetics revolution and archaeological theory workshop, 11-12 June 2018, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.
When Jun 11, 2018 09:00 AM to
Jun 12, 2018 05:00 PM
Where McDonald Institute Seminar Room, Courtyard Building, Downing Street
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Organisers: Dr Alexandra Ion, Dr Darryl Wilkinson

The aim of the workshop is to critically discuss the latest key methodological trends in archaeological research, which have had a major impact on the way in which archaeology frames its relation to the past, namely the “genetic revolution”. By starting from the very practical problems—the challenges raised by combining datasets generated inside different kinds of disciplines—, the goal is to reflect on the limitations of current interpretative models. The implications of the event go beyond the academy. As Richard III, or the recent Cheddar Man case reveal, hybrid genetic and archaeological narratives have an important impact (accelerated by social and digital media), and draw much interest from the media and the public. In a desire to ” put a face ” onto the past, there is an inevitable impulse to interpret DNA in light of contemporary and highly contentious concerns. What then are our ethical obligations, as archaeologists, given the wider (and always partially uncontrollable) uses to which our research might be put?

Some of the themes we aim to discuss: (1) are these multi-disciplinary datasets, especially those obtained through the ‘hard’ sciences integrated successfully with historical and cultural contexts? (2) In what ways does the new materialistic turn affect the framing of the discipline, and how do we now conceive of humans as agents of change? (3) This raises the question of how would a truly integrative narrative look like? In what ways do other disciplines (anthropology, genetics, biology, computer science) influence the kinds of questions we ask? (4) Scale of analysis: What are the problems of integrating big data, and quantitative methods at different scales in archaeological interpretation?

Event generously supported through the D M McDonald Grants & Awards Fund.

You can find the programme at:

Registration is free, but required for attendees. To register please do so by 30 May at:

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