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Seascape: anthropological and archaeological approaches to the human habitation of the sea
Penny McCall Howard (Maritime Union of Australia)
Caroline Wickham-Jones (University of Aberdeen)
Tim Ingold and Arnar Arnason
Wills G27
Start time:
8 April, 2009 at 9:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel is broken into 3 sessions which will discuss, first, modes of human habitation of seascapes, second, communication in and across seascapes, and finally, the continuities between landscapes and seascapes. Each session will include two archaeologists and two anthropologists who will consider how we understand the human seascape and what contribution new seascape research can make to existing landscape studies.

Long abstract:

This panel will examine anthropological and archaeological approaches to the study of human relations with the sea. We use 'seascape' as a holistic term to describe the depth and complexity of human relations with the sea, the modes of human habitation of the sea, the importance of the sea to maintaining livelihoods, and the connections between land and sea. Recent archaeology has highlighted seascape as a resource locus as well as a formative influence on identity, sense of place, and life history (see World Archaeology, Vol 35(3)). 'Seascape' has also been invoked to invert traditional land-centred views in archaeological interpretation. Yet anthropologists have still to make a significant contribution to seascape research despite the recent fluorescence of anthropological writings about landscape and human-environment relations.

We welcome both ethnographic and archaeological submissions, particularly those which contextualise research with reflections on historical and theoretical approaches to understanding human relations with the sea. Such studies are an opportunity to respond to increasing public concern about the crisis of ocean sustainability, and contribute to a fuller understanding of human relationships with their environments and how these have changed over time.

The panel will attempt to synthesise the results of new seascape research and to reflect on questions of mutual interest (or conflict) for anthropologists and archaeologists. While we recognise a danger in isolating research on land and at sea, we believe that seascape research has been neglected yet can contribute to anthropological and archaeological understandings of place-making, movement, environmental perception, livelihoods, technology and habitation.