Decolonisation & BANEA Membership

We recognise that BANEA, as an organisation which has historically represented British archaeologists working in the Near East, exhibits characteristics of the innate bias which comes with that history. As an organisation, BANEA needs to grow if it is to remain relevant and needs to better reflect the diverse demographics and concerns of professionals and students engaged in the archaeology and cultural heritage of the region today. To this end, a subcommittee has been established to address this huge and ongoing area of concern, with its first task being to identify the steps BANEA needs to take itself to decolonise, as well as to investigate ways in which BANEA, as a representative collective, can act usefully in the wider academic community through the provision of information, testimonials, and so on. 

 

So far, the aims and objectives identified are as follows: 

Broaden representation within BANEA

Make it more international amongst the community of archaeologists & cultural heritage students and professionals.

  • Recognise that groups outside of the UK will find it harder to participate in the conference than others – e.g., language, finances, visas, opportunity.

  • Devise policies & strategies to help to address some of these inherent issues – e.g., expanding the number of scholarship schemes for overseas students, diversifying virtual conference content, encouraging overseas speakers.

  • Increasing BANEA’s visibility and relevance outside of UK based institutions by utilising the website and social media.

  • Reflecting on the concerns about BANEA’s name, and surveying the membership opinions on how to address these concerns   

Investigate how British institutions can effectively decolonise

Ask: Is bias, both conscious and unconscious addressed in the following areas? (including BANEA, but also university departments, museum departments, research institutes):  

  • Representation in staffing – do the institutions encourage diversity, through their own staff and/or collaboration with others?

  • In universities: Reading lists – do they reflect the diversity of authorship? Subject modules - what subjects are covered, what are left off? 

  • In museums: object labelling, transparency with regards to context, provenance and object history, accessibility, community, schools & outreach, engaging with diverse voices outside of the academic community.

  • Expand the website content and the list of useful links on ‘How to decolonise your course/institution/project’

  • Create a set of guidelines to inform on best practice for BANEA members in the field, in the university, and in the museum with regards to inclusion, creating safe spaces, encouraging different voices, etc. (see more below).

Community Guidelines for BANEA members

BANEA is an inclusive community. All are welcome, and to ensure that all are made to feel welcome, we have drawn up a set of broad guidelines which will help us build a representative, positive, and lively organisation. How individuals and institutions go about implementing these is for them to decide, depending on what works best for them, and is most relevant to their specific setting. BANEA’s ‘Useful Links’ feature provides access to resources which may be helpful in this regard.

IN THE FIELD

  • The selection of team members should be as free from bias as possible, and diversity* should be actively encouraged. Strategies to guard against conscious and unconscious bias should be implemented.

  • All national and international laws concerning the antiquities of the countries in which the team is working should be abided by. 

  • The cultural norms of the host country should be respected by all team members. Everyone should be briefed as to what is expected of them concerning their personal behaviour whilst in the field.

  • Safeguarding protocols should be devised and implemented to ensure all project members feel safe and supported.

  • Where applicable, cultural and intellectual copyright of all contributors should be acknowledged, and permissions should be sought. 

  • Giving back – Wherever possible, projects should aim to involve the local community, and should leave something of value for them which will last beyond the life of the project. 

Image by Clay Banks
Image by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič

IN THE UNIVERSITY

  • Diversity in the student and staff population should be actively built. Strategies to guard against conscious and unconscious bias should be implemented.

  • Safeguarding protocols to ensure all staff and students feel safe and supported should be devised and implemented.

  • Course content and reading lists should be reviewed to ensure decolonised content and diverse perspectives. The question of what colonialism  means (both generally and within subject specific contexts), how it works, what are its effects, should be included in course content.

IN THE MUSEUM AND RESEARCH INSTITUTION

  • Diversity should be actively built amongst trustees/board members, staff, and volunteers.

  • Safeguarding protocols should be devised and implemented to ensure all staff, volunteers, researchers, and visitors feel safe and supported.

  • A diverse range of researchers and visitors should be encouraged through outreach programmes, school’s materials, social media, etc.

  • Exhibitions and displays should aim to be honest about colonial issues attached to the material on display – These should interrogate how objects were acquired, how they have been interpreted and by whom, and how this is changing as new voices and new stories are increasingly being heard. This process should involve local agency and incorporate them into the story telling.

  • Wherever you are - Keep your hands to yourself! 

  • Diversity* by this we mean not just national, ethnic, and religious identity, but also gender, sexuality, age, disability, and social background. 

Image by Martin Péchy