The experiences of the last week in Vilnius (Lithuania), where we traveled to attend the 22nd annual meeting of the EAA, are still seething in our memories. Traveling with us, five hundred leaflets where we wanted to talk, in short, what NEARCHing Factory was to be. We scattered them in all the transit points of the building, but especially in all the tables of 107 classroom at the Faculty of Philosophy. There, on Friday morning, we had the opportunity to moderate, together with our NEARCH Project partner, Anita Synestvedt (University of Goteborg), a session entitled Archaeology and Heritage on the Way to Sustainability.
We were surrounded by good friends and colleagues. It was a friendly but intense session, focused more on talking about people than things; or at least as interested in people as in things, like our colleague Felipe Criado-Boado, on Thursday, when moderating a session on Archaeology for ‘convivencia’. It is a line that we want to keep holding up at NEARCHing Factory: we talk about sustainability, and this slippery concept refers to human beings and their world, everything that surrounds us and makes us people, including cultural heritage, in its materiality and immateriality.
We began the session with an interesting reflection on the concept of sustainability, by Anna-Carin Andersson (University of Goteborg, Sweden). Then, Jan Vanmoerkerke (Ministry of Culture, France) talked about the new challenges for preventive archeology, and the need to update their objectives and methods. Our Polish colleagues Anna Zalewska (Polish Academy of Sciences) and Kornelia Kajda (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan), focused their speeches on Archaeology of the Contemporary World and its importance to build a dignified past, very essential for the self-sustainability of a dignified social life.
In the second part of the session we analyzed some case studies. Specifically, Sofia Voutsaki (University of Groningen, Netherlands) talked us about Laconia (Greece), and Anita Synestvedt about the suburbs of Goteborg. Both were brilliant and clearly showed the need to work with memory, sharing emotions and feelings with people to get in the way of sustainability, despite the difficulties.
We finally closed the session with ANHER, a project full of hope which aims to improve the professional skills on natural as well as cultural heritage. Of course, something totally linked with some of the working groups that will be deployed during the NEARCHing Factory.
In short, although we missed our Spanish colleagues Xurxo Ayán, Sonia Garcia, Apen Ruiz and Ana Pastor, who could not come, we believe it was a very complete and diverse session, with some concepts that will be key for our work like feasibility, reflexivity, community, etc. These concepts also fluttered over other sessions that we had the opportunity to attend. Finally, they alighted on our shoulders as friendly birds, and no longer took flight in all the time we spent there, staring at the light of the Baltic while it gently bathed the houses and streets of a cozy and beautiful city at the other corner of Europe.