Forward Into the Past
All Speakers
Speakers A-E
Speakers F-N
Speakers O-Z
Speakers 5+ years
Speakers 10+ years
Speakers 15+ years
Speakers 20+ years
Previous Suggestions

Keynote Lecture - March 28, 2015

Dr. Neal Ferris of University of Western Ontario presented Sustainable Archaeologies from Sustainable Archaeology


Archaeology as a profession and as an industry has experienced dramatic growth over the last 40 years. This largely has come from the focus in archaeology at successfully recovering that portion of the record that otherwise would be destroyed by land development or resource harvesting. But the scale of this success has also undermined the stated aims behind conserving and advancing knowledge about the archaeological heritage, as the ever increasing archaeological record recovered from development lands degrades in basements and storage lockers. As a result, criticisms have emerged that this practice is increasingly less about recovering the past before it is destroyed, and more about consuming archaeology for personal livelihood and gain. The status quo of this practice becomes unsustainable. At Sustainable Archaeology we seek to shift that status quo in archaeological sensibilities. We do this by amassing the harvested record from Ontario and converting archaeological collections into digital information, facilitating online access for researchers, Descendant communities, and the public to interact with this information and undertake a range of unique research foci only available when such a broad record of human history across time and space is available in one place. A sustainable archaeology, then, seeks to counter the "over-consumption" and "under-digestion" of contemporary practice by continually generating value-added research from that harvested record, while also acknowledging that the broader social relevance arising from archaeological practice is shaped by those people who come together over this archaeological heritage, beyond the interests and agendas of archaeologists alone.

Dr. Neal Ferris has worked in Ontario archaeology for over 30 years. Currently he holds the Lawson Research Chair of Canadian Archaeology at the University of Western Ontario, and is cross-appointed between the Department of Anthropology and the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. His research focuses on the ancient and recent Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal archaeology of Northeastern North America, on contemporary archaeological practice, and on the transformation of archaeological data into digital information making it accessible to all interested communities. These various research strands come together at Sustainable Archaeology Western, a Federal/Provincial funded research facility Dr. Ferris has been directing since 2009.