A broader vision for Brexit: impacts and advocacy for a global institute

Posted on September 13, 2017


Before Brexit became the train-wreck we all know and love, back when it was just a dumpster fire, there was a session at the CIfA conference about Brexit and Archaeology. We filmed it so you can view it now:

Session Details

Organisers: Rob Lennox, CIfA; Nick Shepherd, FAME

The decision of the British electorate on 23 June to vote to leave the European Union is one that has sent shock waves radiating
through virtually every area of activity in the UK (and indeed, the world) and will dominate political discussion for years to come.
For archaeology, Brexit has provoked questions relating to how we should react to uncertainty in the markets for archaeological
work, how we might be affected by changes in the way we access labour and funding, and how we will work across national
borders both commercially and to collaborate with research partners.

This session will consider what we know about these impacts and present evidence from various parts of the sector exploring
what Brexit means in practice and how we might approach these issues through our advocacy work. This will draw on evidence
collected by CIfA as well as the experience of individual CIfA members, Registered Organisations and FAME members.
However, there is also a broader context for Brexit, and as we consider our global profession, we will also aim to unpick the
existential questions of what the withdrawal from the European Union might mean for our influence in and interaction with Europe
and the world and what opportunities might exist for CIfA, and the archaeological sector more widely, in the post-Brexit world.

Introduction to the session

https://youtu.be/KrkpEwDDO68 Nick Shepherd, Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers; Rob Lennox, CIfA

In this introduction to the session we will set the scene by describing the events of the past twelve months and setting the context for the discussion of how Brexit has affected the archaeological profession, both in terms of real and predicted effects on policyband economy and in terms of the ethical and political implications of the vote on the place of archaeology in society. We will briefly introduce questions related to the market and sector advocacy and introduce the speakers who will contribute to these themes.

When the UK leaves Europe where does that leave me? The perspective of an archaeologist working in both the UK and the EU

https://youtu.be/AUQqpUlYUfQ Kevin Wooldridge

This paper presents the perspective of archaeologists who have taken advantage of EU/EEA freedom of movement – both British archaeologists working in the EU and EU nationals working in archaeology in the UK. As a group we are all affected by the implications of Brexit. I have worked extensively in the UK and the EU, both before and after freedom of movement. The interchange of technical, theoretical and ethical ideas, collaborations across a wide range of site types and periods and a general widening of archaeological experience has greatly benefited our discipline. Whilst I believe professional archaeology can ‘survive’ Brexit, I fear a return to the bureaucratic complexities encountered prior to 1994 – not least a return to insularity, a reduction in career opportunities and stifling of the development of international collaborations. Current UK working visa controls are based upon minimum salary levels. If these controls are extended to EU nationals, it could have a serious effect on the UK commercial archaeology sector’s ability to recruit, particularly for short-term and/or seasonal employment. At present only one UK commercial archaeology organisation is registered to be able to offer visa exemptions on those grounds. The widening of UK working visa requirements are likely to attract reciprocal measures from the EU.
Of equal concern is the effect Brexit might have on archaeological academia, especially collaborative and EU-funded projects, and the freedom of students to study in the UK and abroad, particularly through student exchange programmes such as Erasmus. I believe CIfA has a vital role in representing the whole profession in the Brexit debate. A survey seeking opinions on the effects of Brexit and clarifying the number of archaeologists involved was carried out in August 2016 and it is hoped the results will contribute to the development of a coherent CIfA policy.

On the outside looking in: what will Brexit mean for European archaeology?

https://youtu.be/3khMvGyy5fo Kenneth Aitchison, Landward Research; Nathan Schlanger, École nationale des chartes

Eight years on from the global economic collapse and the hard years that followed, new crises have emerged. Once upon a time there were three assumptions on which Europe’s stability was based – that national borders were fixed and unchangeable, that European governments were increasingly democratic, and that the European Union would only move in the direction of expansion. These have all been shown to be false – in Crimea, in Turkey and in … Peterborough.
From the perspectives of two non-UK residents, we will look at the other side of the Brexit coin – what will Brexit mean for European archaeology outside the UK?
If we hadn’t had PPG16, the Valletta Convention would have looked very different – but those days are past now. How will the UK’s departure affect who works in European archaeology now and in the future? Will it affect who funds European archaeology? Will it affect traditions of practice?

Identity, value and protection: the role of statutory heritage regimes in post-Brexit England

https://youtu.be/kmXYIHqoJr8 Joe Flatman, Historic England

A series of Acts of Parliament enable the Secretary of State for Culture to designate a wide variety of historic sites in England, as advised by Historic England. Although historically focused on the protection of sites, of late a much greater emphasis has been placed on celebrating these sites’ history and their place in our society in the present as much as in the past. Drawing on a range of recent designation casework undertaken by Historic England, this paper will explore the place of statutory heritage regimes in post-Brexit England, especially the part that sites play in the national consciousness and construction of identities by different communities, and particularly ‘English’ identities in a period of political upheaval for the United Kingdom.

The Happiness Machine, or how to be an archaeologist in a changing world

https://youtu.be/M8l-df4Qh-8 Mark Spanjer, Saxion University

The 21st century so far seems to be characterised by a general confusion. The old is not good enough and the new is something to be feared. It is not solely Brexit. It is a wider phenomenon that spreads its wings across Europe and the West.
This paper will explore possibilities for archaeologists to play a role in the public discussion of this age, to broaden our scope on ways to interact with society as a whole. Our search for continued or even enhanced relevance asks for the strengthening of our own institutions such as CIfA and a broadening of their activities across national borders; a broader platform from which we can research, protect and enjoy our cultural heritage and at the same time play a (new) role as public philosophers.

EAA and CIfA: going global together – possible pathways

https://youtu.be/V5vsSaiLSlc Manuel Fernandez-Gotz, University of Edinburgh; Sophie Hueglin, Newcastle University

CIfA and EAA have different histories and approaches, but similar aims and addressees. Two EAA Executive Board members, one of whom is also a CIfA member, will consider how we could work together. This talk describes three exemplar projects that would increase impact and interaction with politics and society:
ŸŸDiscover the archaeologists of the world: DISCO has yielded essential data about European archaeologists, but lacks continuity and official accreditation. How can we get data from more countries at regular intervals and not only about archaeologists, but also about the quantity and quality of archaeology?
ŸŸMaking more (of our) members: How could we come together under a ‘shared roof’, making multiple membership affordable and attractive to everyone? How can we be complementary instead of competitive?
ŸŸOvercoming the nature-culture divide: We can learn from environmental NGOs. They have developed powerful methods to enhance political participation. We could ask political parties before elections for their opinion and intended actions on important issues.

The future is a foreign country

https://youtu.be/ljDQbB1ZQP8 Tim Howard, CIfA

Aside from the wider political debate, CIfA has significant concerns about the effects of Brexit on the UK’s historic environment and its heritage sector:

  • ŸŸvulnerability of environmental protection in domestic legislation
  • ŸŸloss of EU funding
  • restriction on movement of archaeologists between the EU and the UK contributing to skills shortage
  • ŸŸinsularity of archaeological practice and thought

This coincides with a growing feeling in Whitehall and town hall that regulation is the enemy of prosperity, prompting widespread
fears in the sector. But in a time of tumultuous change around the world, this might provide the opportunity to re-assess our objectives and the way that we seek to achieve them. This may involve redefining our strategies and goals and making fundamental changes to our advocacy work. Crucial to this would be:

  • ŸŸturning the tide of opinion against the view that environmental controls are an unnecessary evil, clearly identifying the
  • benefits of heritage protection
  • a willingness to ‘think the unthinkable’ about changes to a system that is creaking
  • ŸŸactively reaching out and developing partnerships with practitioners and bodies outside the UK with a view to learning from and helping each other

This paper will consider those threats and opportunities.

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