New Environmental Archaeologies

What should be the main agendas for archaeology in the Anthropocene? Inviting to a dialogue across disciplines, the aim of this seminar series is to discuss and build a manifesto for New Environmental Archaeologies. Are we asking the right questions? Focusing on the right materials? Using the right terms to the right audiences? A series of interconnected key concerns are addressed in 11 seminars, each devoted to a particular theme.

A beach with washed up garbage

Photo: Thora Petursdottir


The Environmental Humanities have emerged over last decades as an intellectual response to the increasingly acute and increasingly obvious impacts that climate change is exerting on societies globally. This renewed attention to climate and environment as a significant facet of human lives and livelihoods is now also widespread among historians – but it does not seriously include archaeologists. Instead, archaeologists mostly approach issues of contemporary climate change and the Anthropocene from the perspective of either Contemporary Archaeology or from a stance that seeks to highlight the temporal depth of human impacts on climate. And while significant in their own right, these perspectives rarely confer or join forces.

The ambition of this seminar series is to discuss and define new agendas for Environmental Archaeology. In this, we seek not to belabor false dichotomies between scientific and political approaches. Instead, we seek to address the conjoined politics, poetics and potentials of ‘human palaeoecology’ with regard to the deep past, the present, and distant futures; we seek to query what theoretical ambitions and arguments to field and what forms of narrative to adopt – in academic and popular writing as well as in other interactions with diverse publics. Together the series will build a manifesto for New Environmental Archaeologies, including empirical prospects, theoretical configuration, methodological approaches, and novel articulations. 

Where are we going?

We posit that it is the urgency and opportunities of contemporary climate change that have stimulated many of these responses, but that a wider rethinking and recasting of Environmental Archaeology has become a necessity. If we accept Chakrabarty’s (2009) core thesis that history – political, economic, or otherwise – can no longer be analysed, understood, written about and exhibited without including the environment as valid also for archaeology, then all archaeology should be a form of environmental archaeology. Yet, as a disciplinary specialism, this long-established subfield of archaeology derives its identity largely from a methodological fellowship with the Earth Sciences rather than a particular conceptual or theoretical stance. But if Earth Science now is equally a Social Science and if Earth Scientists are following the lead of Latour in shifting their emphasis from ‘matters of fact’ to ‘matters of concern’ it is time, we believe, for new agendas – Anthropocene agendas – for Environmental Archaeology.

Many practitioners are already pushing the envelope on numerous fronts and in that endeavor we extend an invitation to a seminar series that openly seeks to discuss and set such new agendas together. Climate Science has long had the methods to interrogate past climates and environments, as well as to demonstrate human impacts since the commencement of industrialization. Similarly, Environmental Archaeology has many of the necessary methods at its disposal. But are we asking the right questions? Addressing the right materials? And, talking in the right terms to the right audiences?

Reading list

We have created a reading list for the series, which includes both literature providing a general introduction to the overall theme as well as relevant literature related to each topic. 

Talks in 2021


February 5, 2021 14:15-16:00 CET, Zoom

Contributors: Joy McCorriston, Ohio State University and Julie Fields, Ohio State University



February 12, 2021 14:15-16:00 CET, Zoom

Contributor: Shumon T. Hussain, Aarhus University



February 19, 2021 14:15-16:00 CET, Zoom

Contributor: Benjamin Gearey, University College Cork



March 12, 2021 14:15-16:00 CET, Zoom

Contributor: Christina Fredengren, Stockholm University



March 19, 2021 14:15-16:00 CET, Zoom

Contributor: Bergsveinn Thorsson, University of Oslo



March 26, 2021 14:15-16:00 CET, Zoom

Contributor: Stein Farstadvoll, UiT The Arctic University of Norway



April 9, 2021 14:15-16:00 CET, Zoom

Contributor: Suzi Richer, Richer Environmental



April 13, 2021 14:15-16:00 CET, Zoom

Contributor: Mette Løvschal, Aarhus University



April 16, 2021 14:15-16:00 CET, Zoom

Contributor: Mona Bhan, Syracuse University



April 23, 2021 14:15-16:00 CET, Zoom

Contributor: Colin Sterling, University of Amsterdam



April 30, 2021 14:15-16:00 CET, Zoom

Contributors: Joy McCorriston, Ohio State University and Julie Fields, Ohio State University



Download poster for the New Environmental Archaeologies series (pdf).



Published Jan. 29, 2021 12:01 PM - Last modified Jan. 19, 2022 12:49 PM