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Opinion Editorial

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 how the 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.

(read more)

Carsten Paludan-Müller

General Director, NIKU - Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (carsten.paludan-muller@niku.no)

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