Session: Archaeological Heritage, Non-professional Online Communities, and Societal Challenges

Submitted by Isto Huvila on Tue, 12/21/2021 - 10:49

A session #398 organised by Costis Dallas (University of Toronto) 1 and co-organised by Isto Huvila (Uppsala University). Rimvydas Lauzikas (Vilnius University) and Suzie Thomas (University of Antwerpen) at the European Association of Archaeologists 2022 Annual Meeting in Budapest. 

Submissions until Feb 2022 at



Archaeological heritage has often enjoyed a particular status as a form of legacy that has captured the public imagination. It has become a domain for the construction of national, subnational, and translocal cultural identities, for policy contestations regarding the preservation, management of cultural resources, as well as for societal value in the context of education, tourism and leisure. But at the same time, it has also emerged as a major field for problematic practices, related to phenomena such as anti-rationalism, commercial and populist misuse of pseudo-archaeological narratives, echo chambers, justification of nationalist, xenophobic and racialized discourses, and cultural exceptionalism. The material presence of cultural heritage assets, the global range of archaeological collections in museums, the monumentality of major archaeological sites, and the popular interest in the material past are only few of the reasons why archaeology has become a linchpin in contemporary discussions of ethical and social consequence. In tandem, the broader availability and uptake of online technologies and approaches contributes to increased use of online social media platforms by archaeologists, heritage professionals, and, not least, grassroots communities engaging with archaeological objects, collections and sites. Archaeological heritage and scholarly knowledge about the material past has become the locus for novel and diverse archaeology-related digital community practices, which bear on major societal challenges.
This session aims to bring together researchers and research projects studying the uptake of archaeological heritage in socially consequential archaeology-related conversations involving online communities, in contexts including, for example, the weaponization of archaeological heritage in online “culture wars”, the contestation of the material past of WWII, and the decolonialization of archaeological through digital practice. It aims to present and highlight current theoretical and empirical research, and pave the way for an expanded dialogue on the societal relevance of the material past in the digital era.


archaeological heritage, societal challenges, non-professional communities, CAA ARKWORK SIG, public archaeology, online communities

Session associated with other:

CAA Archaeological Practice and Knowledge Work in the Digital Environment Special Interest Group