Since 2003, CHAT has met once a year to provide opportunities for dialogue to develop among researchers and practitioners who work in the fields of historical and contemporary archaeology. The Standing Committee normally solicits proposals from university departments and heritage organisations for future meetings, with local hosts organising ‘their’ meeting under the CHAT banner. The meetings are organised according to flattened hierarchical principles with plenary sessions and an avoidance of keynotes. A further characteristic of CHAT meetings is the inclusion of inter- and trans-disciplinary perspectives. Those who attend CHAT meetings are not expected to be archaeologists and, over the years, CHAT has extended a welcome to ‘performance artists, historians, geographers, photographers, real estate studies researchers, and film-makers’, generating a conference atmosphere that is ‘almost carnivalesque’ (McAtackney and Penrose 2016, 152). The use of innovative presentation styles has also long been championed at CHAT (McAtackney et al. 2007), and different kinds of ‘happenings’ whether film, art, excursion, or other, have also become a regular feature of the meetings, intertwining with standard types of presentation and delivery via meeting sessions, workshops, papers, and discussions.
At least that’s how it worked up until 2019! CHAT had originally planned to meet in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in October 2020, but, in middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, the SC found itself organising its own meeting, without a local host and without being able to meet in person. When the decision was made to postpone the Santiago meeting, the theme of ‘movement’ seemed to hail from a different ‘historical’ (i.e., pre-Covid) era when international travel, in-person conferences, and social events were privileges, ones perhaps taken for granted. We had to come up with Plan B’s for both 2020 and 2021 at a time when conference meetings were moving online, and when, for many, work, extended family, and academic life had also moved to the laptop screen. Even in the early stages, this seemed like an opportunity, rather than a consolation prize. After the success of last year’s festivalCHAT, an online celebration of contemporary and historical archaeology, we are delighted to be back with our virtual Santiago event! Combining digital and analogue experiences around the theme of movement, we present Pilgrim CHAT!
McAtackney, Laura, Matthew Palus, and Angela Piccini, eds. Contemporary and Historical Archaeology in Theory: Papers from the 2003 and 2004 CHAT Conferences, BAR International Series 1677. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports, 2007.
McAtackney, Laura, and Sefryn Penrose. “The Contemporary in Post-Medieval Archaeology.” Post-Medieval Archaeology 50, no. 1 (2016): 148-158.
Pilgrim CHAT is (digitally) hosted by the Institute of Heritage Sciences (Incipit, CSIC) with the support of JAS Arqueología. Organisation was led by Jaime Almansa-Sánchez with the invaluable help of Rachael Kiddey, Nota Pantzou, Hilary Orange, David Barreiro, David García-Casas, Thibault Saintenoy, and colleagues from the CHAT SC and Incipit.