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In my opening remarks for the 4th Eurasian Archaeology Conference, I noted some geographic trends in the papers over the course of the last 11 years. Here is the graph:
The increase in the representation of research in Mongolia explains the growth in the “non-USSR” category. But it was hard to miss the expansion in international collaborative archaeological research in the former Soviet Republics represented at the Conference versus the decline in the representation of work in Russia. It will be interesting to see if we can help reverse that trend in the next conference.
Conversations during the conference however suggest this is not just an idiosyncratic sample. Various discussions suggested that incentives for collaborative work in the Republics and Mongolia versus considerable hurdles in Russia may be pushing international projects onto the edges of the Eurasian landmass. This move will undoubtedly have a significant theoretical impact. Compare how the exile of foreign archaeologists from Iraq and Iran in the late 20th century drove not only new projects in the periphery but new models of world systems and (post)colonial identity formation in antiquity. One possible leading consequence of the reduced presence of Russian archaeology may be a tendency to focus on alternative geographic interlocutors. For the Caucasus, this would be the Near East, for Mongolia and Central Asia, China. This shift in the imagination of the geographic centers of gravity shaping the edges of Eurasia in the past was already visible in many of the excellent papers at the 4th EAC.