¿Es esto sólo un «Hasta Luego»?

¿Es esto sólo un «Hasta Luego»?

El 2 de mayo de 2014 doy por finalizado este blog. Ya no habrá más actualizaciones. Los que me seguís ya sabéis donde encontrarme. Muchas gracias por estos años. El que me encuentre ahora, no tardará mucho en encontrarme de nuevo.
Bye bye


WAC7 - A lost illusion

*I will write this one in English, as it is an international issue.

When in 2008 I went to Dublin for WAC6 I was really excited about the idea of taking part in what probably was the most important congress worldwide. It was expensive, but I was still a student so it was like many others I was attending that year (under 200€). I must say I enjoyed it, although so many parallel sessions made me pass from wanting to visit all of them, to staying for the last couple of days in the common areas chatting with people (after all, that's what congresses are for).

I usually miss inter-congresses, although they look interesting, but was waiting anxiously for the launch of WAC7 in Jordan. Today I visited the web page and all my expectations crumbled. Why? Because of the fees. $460 ($300 for students) which means a rise over 25%. This is by far the most expensive congress in archaeology I have ever seen, plus it is celebrated in a country where it is very expensive to go. I am Spanish, I manage a small company that is starting to have some profit (not enough for my salary yet) and I have to pay full fees. But well... I cannot even afford student fees and I cannot apply for funding (have no options). The EAA or SAA meetings (to mention the other two major congresses in USA and Europe) have full fees under 200€ and, as an example, going to Honolulu for next years' SAA would be cheaper for me than going to Jordan for WAC.

Since I launched the company (2010), I started an editorial with the policy of keeping prices under 20€. Until now I have had no problems with that, and my last book (over 300 pages) costs 12€ in paper and 2,5€ in pdf including a donation for a local association. I didn't lose money with it, why OWA series is usually over $100? The years when Left Coast was publishing it were ok in paperback, but now with Springer we are back to unaffordable prices. I have no idea if they pay authors... if so, such a price is understandable, but there are other options of paying (for sold books) and most series in archaeology do not pay (at least in collaborative ones), so it would not be so harmful, if we could at least afford to buy them.

Last year, in Public Archaeology there was a debate (maybe more coming?) about WAC. The issues were all interesting, but I will keep the idea of 'Archaeology Inc.' (Shepherd and Haber 2011 vol. 10-2, pp. 96-115). I'm still waiting for instructions to download Archaeologies articles for free (isn't it our journal? Shit, I even review for it!). I wait for years to buy books I want because I cannot afford them, and so happens with the libraries I have access to. I cannot afford to go to the meetings because they are too expensive (yeah, I'm complaining about 150€ in a trip over 2000€).

I don't mind to pay more for being in A countries, so WAC can have its 'indigenous quota' but this is not inclusive, or even ethical. I am sure there are other ways to manage it. And I am sure, because I struggle with it every day in my company.

When I studied Public Archaeology in UCL, Peter Ucko was a hero that changed the world of archaeology and WAC was one of the achievements. Today, I wonder what he would think of this... I'm not sure he would like it.


Archaeology as a commodity: Some months ago, Cristobal Gnecco asked me to write a chapter in a new book about ethics for WAC. I will not be present in WAC7 to celebrate it. I will probably not be able to buy a copy of the book. I will have to think a lot about this before writing (you are on time to change me Cristobal...).

Indigenous archaeologists: Lately I am thinking a lot about new forms of colonialism... WAC is starting to be like one right now. The 'indigenous quota' is not inclusiveness it is charity.


Maybe I am wrong... Maybe this is just a misunderstanding of how things work and ignorance about WAC after all these years. I still believe being together is better than nothing, so I will probably continue as a member (I already paid for three years I think), but I needed to say this, because this is not what I came here for.

[Of course, I will not be at WAC7, so I hope you enjoy it.]

4 comentarios:

Jaime Almansa Sánchez dijo...

Comments so far on Facebook:
-On my timeline:
David González Lo mismo pensé yo, Jaime, cuando vi la tabla de precios de las inscripciones... Desde luego, este no es el camino para que los WAC puedan situarse como verdaderos foros multiculturales abiertos. Tu reflexión acerca de cómo los WAC comienzan a funcionar por "caridad" en vez de por sus motivaciones originarias me parece oportuna. Y más oportuno me parece reflexionar acerca de la conveniencia de realizar este congreso en Jordania, un pais con un régimen de gobierno cuando menos dudoso... Triz Bea también debe tener algo que decir al respecto sobre postcolonialismo...
Triz Bea ¿A qué facilidades "indígenas" y de "países B" se refiere? El sueldo medio en Jordania es de unos 300 euros (para gente titulada, por lo que baja enormemente para el resto, que son la gran mayoría) y en Egipto es de unos 100 euros. Así que incluso en el [mejor] caso de pagar 155 dólares (unos 116 euros) por ser estudiante y miembro, ¿quién puede invertirlos en eso y dejar de pagar un alquiler o la comida? Es la misma política elitista y occidental disfrazada de falsa cooperación y caridad. Por no hablar de que en la mayoría de los países del llamado "Tercer Mundo" (por no llamarlos antiguas colonias, que sería lo propio, dada la explotación que siguen sufriendo por nuestra parte) los proyectos de excavación los llevan a cabo los occidentales, muchos de los cuales de las antiguas metrópolis, ¿qué tipo de debate puede surgir de ahí cuando no existe un diálogo real inter-personal? Es occidente el que se impone una y otra vez, para no variar, y diría aún más, a día de hoy, es la arqueología anglosajona, pretendidamente postcolonial (en la teoría, porque en la práctica es un verdadero imperio colonial) la que dirige las agendas de todos los países, extendiendo su forma de comprender la arqueología y el pasado tipo "mission civilisatrice". Qué hipocresía más barata. Ale, ahí queda eso.

Jaime Almansa Sánchez dijo...

-On Gavin Moss timeline:
James Dixon Great stuff.
Donald Henson Some very good points. Oversimplistic classification of the world into developed and undeveloped, rather than focusing in individuals and the usual academic unrealities of good salaries and grants keeping HE an elite excluding those outside the academic boundary.
William Carruthers On another note, I wonder who is actually going?
Jaime Almansa Sánchez Who of you can really afford it? I'm sure not the more than 6000 people who went to Dublin. Cause here I just talk about me, but what about the Jordanian archaeologist that makes 300€ p/m? At least Irish ones could afford the fees. Pat Hadley makes an interesting point in his share: Are we back to UISPP?
Gavin Moss the future is virtual conferences and open-access publications. Cheaper, more accessible, more democratic.
Jaime Almansa Sánchez I disagree with the virtual conferences... you can do them, as well as permanent work groups, etc and they really work, but the debates and ideas that you generate in person are totally different. Of course when we all have the technology to access them this 'virtuality' can become a perfect venue, but right now I cannot even access my email sometimes in Ethiopia, so this is not that widely accessible yet. What I really agree is about open-access publications and forums. They should be the present... In terms of congresses I would just prefer small topic-based ones in which you can really see what you want to see and interact in debates with other researchers. They are cheap and familiar... see JIA 2012 f.e. in its fifth year. And it is an student conference. Last year we grew over the 400 participants, and now we are reducing sessions to focus on debates.

Jaime Almansa Sánchez dijo...

-On Akira Matsuda timeline:
Akira Matsuda I must say I like your note quite a lot, Jaime. Of course, the issue is extremely complicated. The registrations fees have been set by the local organisers in Jordan, who have to make sure that no participant would be affected (against their will) by political conflicts in the Middle East. Remember, when the venue of WAC-7 was decided in summer 2008, the political situation in Syria was far calmer than today - and we know that Amman is not that far from Golan Heights.

The local organisers also seem to want to ensure smooth organisation of the congress. I am sure you have heard about WAC-3 (physical fights in the middle of the conference in New Delhi), WAC-4 (fatal anti-American and British demonstration taking place just outside the venue in Cape Town) and WAC-5 (against the background of the heated anti-War in Iraq demonstration in Washington). WAC-6 was by far the most peaceful congress in the history of WAC!

That WAC-6 was originally intended to be held in Jamaica. The then Exec decided to shift it to Dublin, as they thought that the local organisers in Jamaica wouldn't be able to cope with the organisation of hundreds of participants coming from all over the world. In Jamaica, instead, they organised an Inter-Congress, in which I myself took part in 2007. This I-C was not organised well, and I heard at least three participants from economically advantaged countries complaining about its lack of efficiency and organisation. But it was a very friendly conference, and the registration fee was cheap. I personally had a truly great time - it was a very unique conference!

I am under the impression that WAC is now becoming a little like SAA and EAA. Towards a more organised, slick conference. I personally do not think that this is necessary. And yet, at the same time, I also think that most of those who are from economically advantaged countries and know little about the history of WAC would expect an efficient, nicely organised congress. WAC-3 did not have a conference timetable until a few days before the start of the congress (which is phenomenal!). Would WAC participants today tolerate something similar as far as the registration fees are reasonable? I really do not know. Personally, I always prefer WAC to be different from SAA and EAA. WAC should be wacky!

About the difference of fees between Rate A and Rate B countries, I agree that it is way too simplistic. Ideally, the classification should be made on a case-by-case basis. But the question is, who is going to examine the employment/financial status of each member/participant? Who is going to pay for the work of this person? Currently, no one in WAC Exec and Council receives any remuneration - should this be changed, so a more effective system should be introduced and sustained by paid staff members, even if this could lead to the direction of WAC Inc?

Again, my personal view is, at the moment, to care less about organisation and efficiency - simple and open system is the best, although this could also mean disorganisation (to certain extent, of course!).

Your note must be read by as many people as possible, Jaime. Especially by WAC members. As you rightly pointed out, I really think that there need to be more discussion as to where WAC should go.

Many thanks for giving me a good stimulus to thought. I have been too submerged by my daily work and stopped thinking for a way too long time!


Oh by the way, you can read all the current and past issues of the journal online - check the email I sent to you on 18th January! Perhaps you need a reminder to your Username and Password?

Jaime Almansa Sánchez dijo...

-On Akira Matsuda timeline (2):
Jaime Almansa Sánchez First of all thanks for the instructions to access Archaeologies... yeah, I need to refresh my login. Also, it would be nice to receive an email saying when we have a new number and reminding how to access, cause I pay every three or four years and I didn't remember any... even this one from 18th January.
Anyway. The text is a small personal complain about prices. Why? Cause I cannot afford it. but can a Jordanian archaeologist pay more than 100€ with a salary around the 300? Doubt it.
Security reasons are not valid to me. Ramalla 2009 had no problems and it was a troubled area too. Anyway, that is the risk of doing it in the middle east, and even when in 2008 it was quiet, you cannot be so innocent to think there will be no problems in the area. How many people went to Jamaica? 3 of them is not proportion to fuck everyone with prices. If they don't like it, never go again. That complains are elitist.
Besides, what you comment about a SAA-EAA type I agree... I don't like that. You go because you have to and the price is affordable, but it is normally a mess and you don't attend even a 10% of the sessions. I prefer to have 4 congresses per year, small, cheap and with a concrete topic than 1 every 4 years that I cannot attend and I don't care about a 90% of the sessions. So, agree with you.
About remuneration, it is not a matter of paying or not... anyway, I assume the Exec gets paid to travel for congresses, etc. if not, it is a position very few people can afford. But as I was also cheated in elections in 2008 with Nuria, I prefer not to talk. It is not a matter of paying them, it is a matter of organization. I am sure they can get a better price if they do it in the University instead of Hilton hotel, if they use a network of students to volunteer, if they agree with the police special security, etc. In a congress with thousands of attendants, and a possible revenue over the million dollars, this cannot be the price. We do JIA 2012 for 60 euros with paper proceedings and it is a 3 days congress (of students) already international and with a high quality of organization. Last year we were more than 400 and this year we are reducing it to promote debate. Anyway, paying people for work is not going to WAC inc. it is maybe making things more efficient. But not the Exec or Council, but a secretariat that works everyday for the daily issues like in the EAA f.e. When the moment of the congress comes, I'm sure there is enough money to pay someone too. And it is not making a case-by-case policy, it is making a congress under 200€ with special prices for special situations.
Well, we will continue...