Jack Rossen, Department of Anthropology, gave a keynote presentation at the 1st National Archaeobotany Conference held in Santiago Chile from August 20-25, 2012.
His talk was titled Explorar Nuevas Dimensiones en el Analisis de Restos de Plantas Arqueologicas (Exploring New Dimensions in the Analysis of Archaeological Plant Remains). The presentation urged the 200 conference participants to move past questions of methodology that have preoccupied them and move towards a sophisticated body of theory for understanding ancient plants. These themes include understanding archaeological plant remains as culture change, sociocultural boundaries, status, and political oppression and resistance. He also discussed the role of ancient plants in the international “indigenous archaeology” movement that strives to collaborate with native peoples and fundamentally reorder the priorities of archaeological research. He was surprised that the last theme resonated strongly with the audience, and this topic dominated the long question and answer session. It was a clear sign that the international movement in archaeology towards power sharing and coordination with Native peoples is taking hold in Chile. A book of the conference proceedings is forthcoming.
During the last portion of the trip he worked with an archaeological field crew on Easter Island (Rapa Nui) and explored the sovereignty movement and cultural revitalization of the Rapa Nui people.