14 October 2020
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
On 19 March 2020, the WAC Council took a difficult decision of postponing WAC-9, originally scheduled to take place between 5 and 10 July 2020 for one year to 4–9 July 2021. Retrospectively, we had not yet fully realized how unpredictable and dangerous this novel Coronavirus actually was. Since then, the virus has fully revealed its elusive and deadly character and has inflicted tremendous harm to human lives and confusion, disturbance and destructions to our communities and our societies. Now, many countries and regions of the world are entering into or already in the middle of the second wave of its spread, and various measures that involve the restriction of face-to-face meetings, that some of us experienced in the form of the ‘lockdown’ of society at the height of the first wave, are considered or have already been re-implemented. Worsening of the situation is feared as the northern hemisphere is heading for the winter, but no one knows exactly how the situation will become nor how long before the pandemic will have been contained to the extent that allows us to resume ‘normal’ lifeways including international traveling.
With much regret, and in response to the recommendation made by the WAC-9 LOC, as the result of the continued COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic and the uncertainty and unpredictability of its unfolding, the Council of the Archaeological Congress has unanimously endorsed the further postponement of the Ninth World Archaeological Congress, which was re-scheduled to be held in Prague, Czech Republic, between 4 and 9 July 2021.
As a result of the further postponement, the WAC-9 will now be held a year later from the originally postponed date, between 3 and 8 July 2022 in Prague, Czech Republic.1 This endorsement was not reached lightly. We looked into a range of possibilities, including organizing WAC-9 completely online and holding it in 2021. However, the most important constitutive characteristic of WAC as a democratic archaeological world community obliged us to retain the in-person component of the Congress for the purpose of organizing the Assembly, that comprises of the representatives elected from all participating countries and has power to change the statutes, elect the Executive Officers, and decide the venue of the next International Congress. Disappointing as this may be, but we had to prioritize your safety while still keeping the constitutive characteristics/pillars of WAC as a democratic archaeological world community alive.
We are still discussing with the LOC as to how to respond to various challenges and needs to reduce the inconveniences caused by this further postponement. A package of measures shall be announced as soon as the decision will have been made.
We are also exploring the possibility of organizing an online pre-congress, and possibly, separate online inter-congress(es) sometime next year. We shall keep you informed of the progress of those matters as much as possible.
This virus transcends animal and human boundaries, spreads across all the socio-cultural, -economic, -political and -ethnic boundaries, and that divides and closes down human society. This virus spreads through the infrastructural systems of globalization and destroys global solidarity. This virus is itself a contradiction, and therefore embodies and exposes the contradiction of this world. I, on the capacity of the President, thank you very much indeed for your understanding and patience, and plea for your commitment to make WAC-9 2022 an arena for sharing ideas for and discussing about better archaeologies for the (hopefully post-COVID-19) future.
President of the World Archaeological Congress
1 The International Congress (see Article 6 of the Statutes https://worldarch.org/statutes/) is one of the most important pillars defining WAC’s existence as a democratic world archaeological community. The Assembly, which is held during the International Congress, is our highest decision-making body. Comprised of the representatives elected from all participating countries, the Assembly has power to change the statutes, elect the Executive Officers, and decide the venue of the next International Congress. To further highlight the significance of the International Congress, the final plenary held at the end of each International Congress discusses and adopts resolutions that mandate the WAC Executive and the WAC Council to work towards their implementation while in office. In other words, the WAC speaks through the International Congress to realise its objectives, of the reduction of inequality, and the realisation of social justice through the practice of responsible archaeologies.
WAC-9 FURTHER POSTPONED
Prague 14 October 2020
Dear WAC members, dear colleagues and friends,
On behalf of the WAC-9 LOC I have to regrettably inform you that due to continuing COVID-19 pandemic we have no choice but to change the schedule of the congress once again. The WAC Executive Board and WAC Council have unanimously endorsed such decision. The new dates for WAC-9 are 3rd – 8th July 2022.
Based on a recent release by the World Health Organisation (WHO) the global number of new cases per week has remained stable at 2 million for the past month (reported situation in mid-October), with a cumulative total of over 34.8 million cases. Over 1 million deaths have now been reported globally, of which the majority were reported in the Region of the Americas (55%), followed by Europe (23%). In the past week, the regions of the Americas, South-East Asia, and Europe account for 91% of new cases. Israel registered the highest incidence of 3717 new cases per 1 million population and the rate is still growing. Globally, the highest percentage of cases have been reported in the 25–39 age group, with approximately 50% of cases in the 25–64 age group. However, the percentage of deaths increases with age, and approximately 75% of deaths are in those aged 65 years and above.
In several countries, the number of new cases is rising again, and in many (most notably within the European Region) the second wave is dramatically exceeding previous peaks; this can be partly attributed to enhancements in surveillance capacities over time. In other countries we have seen a gradual decline in new cases from earlier peaks: in August, for example in Brazil, Colombia and Peru. In India and the Philippines, the number of new cases appears to have stabilized, but they are still reporting high numbers. There are also examples of countries that have consistently shown an increasing incidence as their first wave continues; these include Indonesia, Iraq, and Myanmar, although Indonesia is reporting a slight drop this week. South Africa and Australia are examples of countries that have successfully managed to reduce the number of new cases and have seen large reductions from earlier peaks.
So these are the epidemiological facts. Perhaps as much as our physical health is endangered, so is our spiritual wellbeing and psychical stability. So words of wisdom and compassion are needed more than ever: Pope Francis in his ENCYCLICAL LETTER FRATELLI TUTTI (October 3rd 2020) said on fraternity and social friendship: “the COVID-19 pandemic momentarily revived the sense that we are a global community, all in the same boat, where one person’s problems are the problems of all. Once more we realized that no one is saved alone; we can only be saved together. As I said in those days, the storm has exposed our vulnerability and uncovered those false and superfluous certainties around which we constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities”.
While His Holiness Dalai Lama said that the virus "will change basic human nature."
Head of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Gehbreyesus reminds us that: "History will judge us on the decisions we do and don't make in the months ahead. Let's seize the opportunity and bridge national boundaries to save lives and livelihoods."
Hoping for better times and how to bridge the gap.
It is more than obvious that under the current situation it is impossible to organise an on-site face to face congress. After long negotiations we have decided that instead of turning our 2021 congress into something purely virtual, we organize a hybrid WAC-9 in 2022. We hope in two years time the majority of us will be able to attend the global meeting in Prague in person, however for those who for any reason would not be able to travel there will be an online platform for distant participation.
We have been also discussing how to bridge the gap of another year without WAC meeting and so the idea was born to organize a WAC-9 Virtual Pre-congress. This is going to involve several Key-notes emphasizing current issues in global archaeology as well as specialized discussion platforms developing the topics related to the spirit of WAC. This virtual meeting will be also promoting the academic program of WAC-9 2022 and will be accessible free of charge. We will keep you informed about further details soon.
So we have some new WAC events to look forward to!
I wish you all good health and strong faith in a better future!
WAC-9 Academic Secretary
A word of welcome from the President of the World Archaeological Congress
Nowadays, it is a truism to say that the world is in crisis, and the discipline of archaeology, firmly situated in the contemporary world, is meant to be in crisis, too. However, it is not necessarily the case; in reaction to the relentless expansion of hyper-capitalist economy-led globalization and the exacerbation of postcolonial problems, Archaeology with Capital A has been reorganizing itself by proactively ‘localizing’ itself into an increasing number of ‘archaeologies’ differentiated along issues concerning inequality, discrimination, injustices, destruction of cultural heritage and identities, and infringement of basic human rights generated by the deepening crisis.
World Archaeological Congress was founded in 1986, when problems generated and exacerbated by the crisis began to be felt as something which we the citizens of the world, including archaeologists, could no longer ignore. The accelerating pace of globalization on one hand was intensifying inequality and discrimination and on the other hand raising global awareness of human sufferings. Our global archaeological community, the World Archaeological Congress, or ‘WAC’, was formed specifically in line with the UN condemnation of the then apartheid regime of the Republic of South Africa. However, retrospectively, the birth of WAC can be recognized to have been a part of the global movement responding to rising problems that the hyper capitalism and globalization led to.
33 years on, the situation remains to be critical. In some ways, problems have been deepened. Widening economic, social, cultural and political gaps and inequalities within and between human groups and communities of all kinds, ranging from individual families, genders, various communities, countries, to global regions, are destabilizing our ontological security, fueling hatred, and resulting in all sorts of extremism. Unchecked exploitation of natural resources, not sufficiently regulated industrial productions, and the endless march of irresponsible consumerism are threatening the survival of living species, including human being.
What can we do? I would like to say we can do a lot. The ideals, causes and objectives of WAC, many of which were regarded as irrelevant to archaeology when it was founded back in 1986, have now firmly become common principles to be complied with and drawn upon in doing good archaeologies. Locally-rooted archaeological practices are increasingly involved in proactive movements to protect local heritage, local environment and local identities. And, such local movements are increasingly situated in global movements to protect the wellbeing of our lived world.
Prague is a fitting place for us to gather, examine how far we have come, and together think and imagine which directions we shall move and what we will be able to do for the betterment of archaeologies and betterment of the world; Prague has witnessed many human struggles and endeavors to protect and further human freedom and basic human rights, some of which were defeated and some of which were won.
Looking forward to meeting you in Prague in the next Summer, and sharing our ideas, imaginations and dreams for the futures of archaeologies!
President of the World Archaeological Congress
Welcome Address from the WAC-9 Academic Secretary
Dear Colleagues worldwide!
34 years after its birth in Southampton as a highly influential world organization, the World Archaeological Congress is coming back to Europe. Prague has always been a cultural and multilingual crossroads of Central Europe. The atmospheric streets of Prague hide amazing subterranean relics of the medieval city which are very attractive to visitors to explore. The Czech Capital is the city of St. Wenceslaus, the city of Franz Kafka and of Václav Havel.
Prague is once again becoming such a crossroads as a forum for discussion for anyone who is concerned with the study of archaeology and world heritage.
WAC is open to archaeologists of all countries, encouraging the development of regionally-based histories and maintaining the international academic discourse within the worldwide community.
This special event offers you the opportunity to share the results of your research. It mediates discussion on professional training and public education for disadvantaged nations, groups and communities. The voices of representatives of different Indigenous groups will be welcomed. We will also discuss the role of archaeology and the state of world heritage in the current globalized world.
Make your research visible worldwide: come to Prague 5th to 10th July 2020!
We look forward to welcoming you in the heart of Europe.
WAC-9 Academic Secretary