5-9 January 2011

Conference Theme: “Boundaries and Crossroads in Action: Global Perspectives in Historical Archaeology”

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Over time, Texas has been variously referred to as a frontier, colony, empire, borderland, hub, republic, and state. This changing configuration of Texas’ role in the modern world was shaped by multiple factors, including forced and voluntary immigrations and the attempts at empire building by various nations. The contributions of Native Americans, Euroamericans, African Americans, and peoples of diverse nationalities, including Mexicans, Germans, Spaniards, and the French, underscore the state’s rich legacy. Boundaries and crossroads both conceptualize and capture the subsequent exchanges, conflicts, challenges, and accomplishments of a range of individuals and groups as they sought to establish themselves in an ever-transforming world. Yet, we are interested in a broader application of the theme and view it as related to a much wider scope of issues, questions, and practices both in the past and present.

Boundaries and crossroads evoke two distinct but related spheres of engagement and interaction, in geographical, social, and intellectual terms. While “boundaries” seek to demarcate space and cohesiveness, in reality the lines drawn are porous and subject to multiple, and often disputed, crossings. Similarly, while “crossroads,” as intersections, imply points of contact and exchange, these processes are often fraught with contestation. Together, boundaries and crossroads are sites of action and simultaneously represent negotiated spaces, processes, identities and change. We propose an inclusive and more universal definition of these concepts and seek theoretical, thematic, and geographical translations of “boundaries” and “crossroads” in session papers and topics that emphasize the global nature of historical and underwater archaeology.

As sites of potential conflict, negotiation is often required when travelling across boundaries, and moving within crossroads. We see this challenge as an opportunity for enriching the discipline with regard to theory and practice, and reconceptualising traditional subject matters. For example, we recognize the need to cross geographical and intellectual boundaries to develop more global, comparative bodies of research in order to address such issues as social inequality, capitalism, trade, and alternative strategies of colonization. Sessions might interrogate the crossroads of identity formation by considering the intersection of ethnicity, gender, race, and/or class. Cultural contact is a nexus of interaction that as a process serves as a vehicle by which people construct, negotiate, and deploy boundaries and crossroads. Yet we also see boundaries and crossroads in the realm of public archaeology, where practitioners work emphatically to transgress boundaries and to establish inclusive, mutually beneficial relationships with various publics. Heritage and archaeological sites and museums often signify cultural crossroads or archaeology/public boundaries. How do we constructively negotiate these spaces? Finally, sessions might explore the boundaries between and crossroads/intersections of academic and CRM archaeology, or terrestrial and underwater archaeology, in search of more productive ways to work together.

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