Call for papers: Empire and excavation: critical perspectives on archaeology in British-period Cyprus, 1878-1960

Empire and excavation: critical perspectives on archaeology in British-period Cyprus, 1878-1960

6-7 November 2020, Nicosia, Cyprus

Call for Papers now open

We are delighted to share news that a call for papers for the conference entitled, Empire and excavation: critical perspectives on archaeology in British-period Cyprus, 1878-1960, organised by our friends at the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI) and the British Museum, is now open.

Following on from the success of the 1999 CAARI conference entitled Cyprus in the Nineteenth Century AD. Fact, Fancy and Fiction, this year’s conference will revisit this theme, building on the past generation of scholarship while expanding the coverage to the entire British colonial period (1878-1960) and introducing the latest trends in the historiography of archaeology. It is hoped that the proceedings with be published in a peer-reviewed volume in 2021.

Suggested themes for papers include, but are not restricted to:

  • How consciously or purposively political was archaeology in Cyprus in the British colonial period? How do we assess the fieldwork of European and American excavators working on the island at the same time and in the context of other imperial/colonial activity in the region?
  • What knowledge of archaeology can be gained from little-known or overlooked archival sources such as photography and film, and from travel accounts and memoirs?
  • The role of underrepresented groups in Cypriot archaeology (social, ethnic, gender).
  • The key role of local Cypriots – from archaeological field workers and villagers to collectors and scholars – in the excavation and presentation of their past; conversely, the (mis)representation of local agency by archaeologists and scholars, then and now.
  • The social and economic contexts and histories of excavation and collection, including unlicensed digging/ ‘looting’ and unlicensed export within a longer-term perspective.
  • The diaspora of Cypriot antiquities, the mechanisms underpinning the formation of foreign collections (e.g. the antiquities trade), and museum strategies of interpretation and display in historical context.
  • Critical interpretations of the long-term excavation histories of individual archaeological sites and regions.
  • The ‘meta-historiography’ of archaeology: how archaeologists and historians have represented the work of earlier fieldworkers and scholars in their publications.
  • The cultural and political use of archaeological finds, including their recruitment to colonial and nationalistic ideologies in the British colonial period.
  • The mis/representation of the history of archaeology to general audiences: its impact on public understanding of excavation, and its uses for public engagement and community building.

Comparative regional studies focused on the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East are particularly welcomed. Likewise, papers which cross disciplinary boundaries and help to frame the history of Cypriot archaeology in a more holistic manner with contributions from history, anthropology, heritage studies and other related areas are encouraged.  

Please send abstracts of 500 words by 20 March 2020 to Anna Reeve at

This conference is jointly organised by the British Museum and the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI), in association with the Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL).


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