CHAT 2016 conference call for papers

The University of the Highlands and Islands is hosting the 2016 CHAT (Contemporary and Historical Archaeology in Theory) conference between October 21 and 23, 2016.

CHAT 2016 V3 CFP A4 poster (2)

The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute is hosting the 2016 CHAT (Contemporary and Historical Archaeology in Theory) conference between October 21 and 23, 2016.

Hosting the conference in Orkney, away from the usual metropolitan centres, will offer CHAT a chance to experience rural areas by situating itself within one.

Orkney is both rural and island and a microcosm for wider issues.

In the past and present Orkney is a gateway, a crossroads and a hub, typified by recent renewable technology test sites. In this sense, the edge-lands are for innovators both in the past and present, and are orientated towards the future. With superfast communications technology, the internet and increased mobility, the dominance of urban centres for popular culture and social interactions is eroding. Are we ‘all urban now’ or is rurality growing new modes of existence?

We have identified a number of sub-themes and questions:

  • Experiencing and experiences of rural areas: What are rural ‘ways of life’ and how can we think about these archaeologically? Rural areas as contested landscapes past and present. How is our experience of rural heritage sites (tourism) mediated through convention and control?
  • Agriculture, technology and landscape: What are the social and political economies, landscapes and materialities of the recent past and present in rural areas and islands? Can we re-theorise rurality in Historical and Contemporary Archaeology?
  • Movement and travel within and between rural areas: How do these mobilities evidence themselves in blurring the boundaries (land and sea), both socially and spatially, between rural, urban and island areas? What is the role and history of digital technology in rural development?
  • Ruralisation of the urban: Archaeologies of parks, wastelands, community gardens, theme parks, pseudo-rural landscapes and counter-urbanisation. How has urban design brought rural into urban?
  • Rural areas as innovators / future orientated: Renewable technology and the development of more sustainable ways of life. Boom-bust economies of the recent past. Are terms such as ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ still useful? How can we challenge concepts / assumptions of remoteness and marginality?

We welcome proposals for papers, posters, films and installations that respond to the conference theme and follow the above or alternative lines of enquiry. As always, proposals from disciplines outside archaeology are welcomed.

There will be a small exhibition space available in the theatre foyer for posters, installations or alternative presentations, and we are happy to discuss such contributions.

Please send proposals (up to 300 words) to no later than 17 April 2016.


It’s a shame to come so far and not see anything! So, we’re laying on fieldtrips on the Thursday, Friday morning and Sunday afternoon (details announced soon). We hope these will inspire debate and take the conference to the islandscape.

Planning your trip

Come to Orkney, you know you’ve always wanted too! Book early to get cheaper deals and allow for extra time, we could have some weather. Why not come on the Wed/Thurs and leave on the Monday to take advantage of our fieldtrips? Check with us about accommodation in halls at


You can travel to Orkney by ferry from Scrabster and Gills Bay on the north coast of Scotland, and Aberdeen (Northlink , Pentland Ferries ), and air (Flybe operated by Logan Air ) from four major Scottish cities (Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Inverness). Train then plane is a good option. It is best to allow a day for travel each way. Do contact us for travel advice.


Rooms in new halls of residence next to the venue will be available, check with us first about discounts. Kirkwall has numerous hotels, B&Bs and hostels see

More information will be available soon on the conference website. This will include detailed travel options and accommodation. A number of travel/accommodation bursaries will be available.

See the CHAT website at for regular updates

Conference enquiries: