The next Contemporary and Historical Archaeology in Theory meeting will be held in Lisbon on November 10-12, 2022. But why Lisbon?

Many archaeologists have been engaging with current debates on the decolonization of the discipline. However, very little has been said about the impact of these discussions in the field of historical and contemporary archaeology.

Is the decolonial movement changing the kinds of questions we ask? Our methods? There’s a lot to talk about and some of us will certainly bring it up in Lisbon.

Lisbon is one of the largest open-air museums of colonialism in Europe. Every corner will remind you of a past that is not past yet in the shape of a statue, a tropical tree, a pastry shop, a street name honoring some conqueror.

Like in many other towns across the continent, coloniality lingers on the streets, is embedded in our things, and shapes everyone’s lives. Many of us are questioning this state of affairs. No surprises here. Can we archaeologists do anything about this?

The event’s image was inspired by a story that tells a lot about contemporary discussions on the legacies of colonialism. In 2017, the city got a new statue honoring Jesuit António Vieira, known for his missionary work in Brazil and his eloquent sermons. Vieira was also known for standing up against the enslavement of Brazil’s indigenous communities while supporting the enslavement of Africans.

Statue of António Vieira. Photo by Rui Gaudêncio (Municipality of Lisbon)

Do you wonder why would anyone think of doing a statue like this in the 21st century? Many people asked the same. The statue became a focus point for decolonial demonstrations as soon as it was built. Right-wing extremists responded by occupying the plaza and threatening protesters.

More recently, an anonymous artist graffitied the statue with the word “Descoloniza” (Decolonize), painted hearts on the indigenous kids, and sprayed the priest’s body as if he was stained with blood.

The statue of António Vieira in 2020. Photo by Paulo Lourenço (Jornal de Notícias)

The graffiti were quickly cleaned. Yet, the artist’s powerful message stayed with us and inspired Nikola Krizanac to create this image for the CHAT conference.

Hope you’ll feel inspired too, and join us in Lisbon in November!