The European Association of Archaeologists.
Some thoughts for the future of our Association
In 2014 we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the
EAA. It was also the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, 70th
anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy, 100th anniversary of the break
out of the First World War, the 150th year anniversary of the battle of Dybbĝl
heralding the unification of Germany in the Kaiserreich, the 200th anniversary
of the opening of the Vienna Conference and the 300th anniversary of the Bourbon
conquest of Catalonia, during the Spanish War of Succession. Objectively the
anniversary of our Association does not in importance match those other
anniversaries that all mark major geopolitical shifts in Europe. However the EAA
does somehow deserve to be understood - subjectively by us as members in that
context, if we want to understand the wider perspective in which our
organization is or should be operating. These "major" anniversaries remind us of
geopolitical order of Europe has been remodelled time and again through history.
They remind us of the dynamics of European history, which has formed the
political, social and cultural framework within which archaeology and heritage
management has developed. And they remind us of the need to understand our own
undertakings as both impacted by, and impacting history and society around us.
They remind us of the short time span during which a major part of the Europeans
have enjoyed the benefits of civil rights and democracy, still a precarious good
that remains challenged in Europe and beyond. Democracy is a culture that grows
from deep but vulnerable roots; it needs cultivation at all levels.
When the EAA was founded more than two decades ago,
it happened in the immediate
aftermath of one of those major reshuffles of the European geopolitical order,
this time the
collapse of the Soviet Empire and the end of the bipolar world order. The
founding of the EAA was inspired by the euphorising prospect of a united and
democratic Europe (Kristiansen 1993). The ambition was to create a pan-European
arena for Archaeology and Heritage Management to rise to the historic occasion
and add its deep time perspective to the short-termism dominating our
contemporary European societies.