“I painted him as a monument”: Public Art as Protest in Detroit

Kaeleigh Herstad (US)

This photo essay documents and explores recent public art in made in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in Detroit, Michigan. These works of art—which range from informal yard signs to large-scale installations and commissioned works—connect Detroit to national discourse around police brutality by memorializing and honoring Black Detroiters killed by police alongside other, more recent victims of police violence elsewhere in the United States. They are often in conversation with other memorials in the city, and they express collective grief, anger, support, exhaustion, and hope and encouragement for the future.

This essay will examine how these recent public works of art engage with Detroit’s legacy of racism and police brutality against Black residents. What does it mean to, as one artist put it, paint someone not as a person, but as a monument? And finally, how do these issues relate to and intersect with other ongoing forms of violence against Black residents, such as the disinvestment in and wide-scale demolition of Black neighborhoods and gentrification?

Click here to read the photo essay

Going over old ground: Tracking and modelling landscape change through time with GIS

Greg Hill (Australia)

Archaeological landscapes are not static entities. Natural and cultural processes such as erosion, sea level rise, mining, and urban development are constantly reshaping the world around us. This has implications for the way we manage, excavate, and interpret the archaeological record. Through the use of historical maps, aerial imagery, and modern mapping software it is possible track how landscapes have changed through time. This talk will provide some examples of this analysis both from Victoria, Australia, and New Zealand.

La Trobe Archaeology Videos for festivalCHAT.

Twitter: @Greg_Hil_

Hulme Cavalry Barracks and the Peterloo Massacre: Digging the 19th Century Reaction to Protest

Michael Nevell (UK)

Barracks Park (also known as St George’s Park) in Hulme, central Manchester, England, was excavated as part of the Dig Greater Manchester community archaeology project in July 2013. The park was seen as a key site for the project since it contained the remains of Hulme Barracks, a 19th century cavalry base established in 1792 and closed in 1915 that was used during the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. It was also a class of military site that had been little studied within North West England, being used as a base for both for policing the local industrial population and recruiting them for the British Army. The early history of the barracks is poorly recorded but between 1817 and 1895 the barracks were occupied by twenty-seven regiments in succession. This podcast looks at the background history of the site, especially its role in the Peterloo protest and massacre, the surviving remains as excavated in 2013 by the Dig Greater Manchester community archaeology project, and the wider context of this 19th century military type site.

Listen to this podcast

Gold Rush Archaeology and Environmental Crises

Susan Lawrence (Australia)

The global gold rush of the mid-nineteenth century is the stuff of legend and romantic nostalgia. It was also a time of unprecedented environmental crises. Archaeological research in Victoria, Australia, has uncovered new evidence of a forgotten catastrophe. Thick layers of alluvium on floodplains are the consequence of unregulated dumping of industrial waste and rivers that ran thick with sludge for two generations. The story of how it got there and what was done to stop it is a lesson of hope, persistence, and the triumph of community activism.

La Trobe Archaeology Videos for festivalCHAT.

Instagram: @drpastplaces

Festivals: Monument Making, Mythologies and Memory


Jacqui Mulville and Barbara Brayshay (UK)

Live talk Friday 30 October 16:00-17:00 GMT

No nail-biting ticket lottery to get into our GlastonburyCHAT! – a virtual wristband is all you need to come through the gates of the Glastonbury Festival site to join Guerilla Archaeology‘s Jacqui Mulville and Barbara Brayshay on a journey to the Swan Circle, a monumental stone circle that was created on the festival site by Ivan McBeth in 1992. Here, though the night time, drummers are silenced and the flames of the fire extinguished by the cancellation of the 50th Anniversary festival, we will explore the lure of the Stones.

We ask if looking at the site through the lens of contemporary archaeology we could reveal a missing dimension in our understanding of stone circles – that of the people who go there and walk amongst the stones. What would we find as we bring the people and their voices into the space?

Our Swan Circle stories provide a fascinating window into the transmission of ideas and practices in the present and the past, an understanding of the wider views of ancient monuments and how festivals can develop their own sacred landscapes, rites and rituals that people are keen to enact and embellish. Just like our ancient ancestors at that mythical Stonehenge event people continue to find joy in great gatherings, fulfilment in the creation of meaning and legend, and a desire to connect and reflect, with the modern music festival providing the opportunity for this to occur.

Find out more about Guerilla Archaeology here.

The Archaeology of Burning Man

Carolyn White (US) and members of the Burning Man community

Book talk on 30 October 17:00 EDT (21:00 GMT)

Each August cadres of staff and volunteers begin to construct Black Rock City, a temporary city located in the Black Rock Desert of northwestern Nevada, twelve miles north of Gerlach, Nevada, a town that greets visitors with a sign that reads “Welcome to Nowhere.” Every September tens of thousands of people travel to it, creating the sixth largest population center in the state of Nevada. By mid-September the city is fully dismantled, and by October the land on which the city lay is scrubbed of evidence of its existence. This city is the locus of the Burning Man Archaeology Project.

Carolyn White has been working as an anthropological archaeologist at Burning Man since 2006. She recently published a book on the project,  The Archaeology of Burning Man: The Rise and Fall of Black Rock City. She will give a talk about her book and host a conversation with members of the Burning Man community, some of whom are featured in the book. In the forum we will discuss the work presented in the book, the reaction of the Burner community to contemporary archaeology, the experience of being a subject of study, and reflect on the archaeological recording of a the temporary city. This event will be on Zoom.

33 Days of Utopia

Attila Dézsi and Roswitha Ziegler (Germany)

Live Q&A event on Tuesday 27 October 19:00-20:00 CET (18:00-19:00 GMT).

During an archaeological research project on an anti-nuclear protest camp, a team of filmmakers, archaeologists and contemporary witnesses documented their perspectives on archaeology of the recent past as well as their own heritage. In 1980, activists at a former protest camp near Gorleben in Germany blocked the test drilling ground for a nuclear waste storage facility. At the same time, the so-called “Free Republic of Wendland,” as the protest camp was known, became the location for a range of social experiments in how to live an alternative lifestyle. The collective experience of a ‘lived utopia’ and the use of alternative energy technologies changed the lives of the protesters and the green movement in general.

The filmmakers interviewed witnesses about their memories and emotions connected to the site, while the archaeologists tapped into the materiality of the formation of utopia. During this collaborative project, the thread of the nuclear waste facility lingered; Germany has not yet decided where to put its nuclear waste.

We will air the trailer of the film, followed by a live Q&A event with the filmmakers and archaeologists.


Book your place below!


A call for flash fiction and nano-histories in 150 words or less

The Writing Archaeology Collective, Columbia University:

Amanda Althoff, Madison Aubey, Rudy Banny, Annarubenia Capellin Ortega, Zoë Crossland, Katherine McCarthy, Brendon Murray, Jenny Ni, Cleo Payne, Nikki Vellidis (US)

Live event Thursday 29 October 14:00-16:00 EDT (New York) 18:00-20:00 GMT (London)

With every passing moment we see clear examples of how the world around us shapes and is shaped by history. In this festival session we challenge the archaeological community to use location as a bridge between the contemporary and historical and to find new ways to narrate the clash of pasts and presents and the accumulation of new meanings and associations with place.

We ask for flash fictions or nano-histories that reflect on time’s interconnectivities. Consider Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma; the British Museum in London; the Jelling Stones in Denmark; any number of political borders and walls. How do past and present merge and clash particularly in the context of our pandemic world and the protests of Black Lives Matter?

Participants should submit a 150-word or less story, together with an image showing the site attached to their story. Each presenter will have 10 minutes to read their piece and respond to questions. Accepted submission will be posted to Instagram and the session will be held on Zoom and streamed live on Facebook. Please make sure your images are yours, or that their source is cited.

Submit to timeclash2020@gmail.com by Tuesday 27 October.

Eventbrite registration is for spectators only. If all tickets are taken it will still be possible to watch the livestream and submit questions for speakers on our Facebook page

Twitter: @CUArchaeology

Facebook & Instagram: @centerforarchaeology

#FestivalCHAT2020 #TimeClash2020 #Nanohistory #Flashfiction


Katy Whitaker (UK) and Lara Band (UK)

How can people come together at a time of enforced separation? Inspired by Client Culture’s postal zine project Cross Pollination for Antiuniversity 2020, CHAT-CHAIN-MAIL is a Mail Art project for festivalCHAT building a chain of thoughts, ideas and art as the piece moves through the physical world.

This event is open now so get involved!

Mail Art developed in contemporary art movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Also known as postal art, Mail Art is a populist art movement that involves making small pieces to be sent in the post. These artworks are commonly postcards, small zines, little collages or textual pieces, they make use of everyday materials, found materials, rubber stamps, and home printing, but ultimately includes anything that can be put in an envelope and sent by post.

Mail Art is thus an egalitarian art-form. It is cheap and it circumvents the conventional art market. It is global, putting people in touch with one another around the world via international postal services. Mail Art often chimes with the ethos of ‘Reuse, Repair, Recycle’ in the materials found, selected, adapted, and collated to make the pieces.

It is not only the image that matters. The material properties and networked nature of Mail Art are things that archaeology has the means to attend to. And the connectedness of Mail Art, tangible items whose properties are not mediated by a screen, affords the possibility of real-life, physical inter-connection between people otherwise kept apart from one-another in a time of pandemic. The journey that our Mail Art will take and its transformation through each pair of creative hands are as, if not more, important, than the final completed piece that we can share.

How this will work:

If you’d like to take part sign up between now and the last day of festivalCHAT, Friday 30 October 2020 by emailing us at chatchainmail@gmail.com . We’ll send you guidelines for how the project will work, read and agree to these (ask if you’ve any questions) and we’ll add you to the list!

On the first day of festivalCHAT, Friday 23 October we’ll start CHAT-CHAIN-MAIL by posting an opening piece to the first person on the list. The recipient will have three days to add their contribution before posting it on to the next participant. We’ll only share your address with the previous contributor in the chain and we won’t keep your contact details after.

Each person will have three days to add their piece, it can be a response to the previous piece or something new: size guide is a maximum of two sides of A4 paper with thoughts, art and ideas using whatever materials you like. Email us when you’ve completed your piece and we’ll send you the address of the next person to send it to.

CHAT-CHAIN-MAIL will inevitably continue its travels after festivalCHAT so to document the package as it travels through festivalCHAT-time and beyond we’d like contributors to take a picture of their work, in whole or part, to share on social media with #FestivalCHAT2020 #ChatChainMail. The final piece will be scanned for documenting on the festivalCHAT and/or CHAT website and the piece itself will travel to the next live CHAT accompanied by an approximate map of its journey, for perusal in person.

#CHATChainMail @_Laraband @artefactual_KW