Challenge 3: Conflicts, mobilities and migrations

In our own times, these three major societal challenges – conflicts, mobilities, migrations – fuel nationalistic discourse and spread clichés. At the very beginnings of the discipline, archaeology was instrumentalised to support this discourse. In collaboration with various actors in the socio-economic sphere (local communities, heritage institutions, associations) and continuing the work already carried out by members of the EUR, this facet of teaching and research (study days, summer schools, doctoral seminars) will aim at sensitising citizens about the dangers and excesses in such identitary discourse.

Bringing together archaeologists, anthropologists, historians and epigraphers, a first cycle of teaching (master’s and doctoral) will be dedicated to the diverse forms of conflict attested in various data sources. These will be essential to revealing the construction of discourses around conflict, as well as the various representations of it. We shall also evaluate how modern and contemporary conflict archaeology (WWI, WWII, mass graves under Francoism, etc.) can renew our vision of recent historical events. The ethical questions concerning the handling of human and material remains from these contexts will also be dealt with.

A second stage will be devoted to voluntary destruction such as arson or pillage, the first archaeological testimony to which goes back to the Neolithic. In today’s world, when “heritage emotions” (D. Fabre) spring forth due to the massive destruction of archaeological sites in the context of Middle East conflicts, what can the past teach us? How were the sites, now destroyed, once managed by the surrounding population? Abandonment, reoccupation, incorporation, commemoration… all are important aspects that we must deal with.

Yet another stage will be dedicated to mobilities of people or groups and population shifts. Parameters contributing to various modes of mobility (conflicts, demographic or climate pressure, the sense of adventure) and migrations will be dealt with through case studies in various chrono-cultural areas the EUR ArChal specializes in. We shall also analyze the mechanisms of assimilation, population mixing, rejection or refusal between groups.