Well - what a year it’s been so far –and we are not quite at Easter! This the first of my “from the Director” blogs in 2020 – coming to you in this new format from our new CRAR+M Website (thanks to the hard work of Sarah de Koning)! Since our last CRAR+M Chronicle in June of last year, many of us attended the Rock Art Histories Symposium (hosted by our colleagues at Griffith) as well as the AAA2019 Conference on the Gold Coast.
CRARM researchers and collaborators from Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation and Rio Tinto from left to right Martin Porr, Ken Mulvaney, Tootsie Daniel, Kaylene Daniel, Sam Harper, Ben Smith (front row) Jo McDonald and Sven Ouzman
This was affected by smoke from north-coast bushfires, which had been burning for several months – and then Christmas saw the worst bushfire season on record – bringing devastation to many regions of Australia.
Then, COVID-19 turned the world upside down! The world pandemic is striking hard in many parts of the world. We are relatively fortunate in Australia that our seasonal conditions, low population density and fast action by the Government(s) has meant that we are ‘flattening the curve’ at this point. The CRAR+M and Archaeology teaching staff, along with our entire University cohort, has had a gargantuan transition to online teaching. We are now in a lengthened mid-Semester break, preparing for the second half of Semester 1.
Zooming in for the Archaeology & Forensics Discipline meeting this week
Fieldwork for the next 6 months has been cancelled: in line with sensible physical distancing, the closure of remote communities to outside contact, and the State’s ban on intra-regional movement. We remain in contact with our collaborating communities and are concerned for many, as winter is coming (along with our usual flu season). UWA is officially closed to undergraduates, and most of us are working from home. We are getting used to having Zoom meetings for virtual tutorials, Discipline meetings, Discipline lunches and a range of other cross-campus interactions.
Many of this year’s conferences and symposia have already been cancelled: The Future Forum (Fremantle), the SAA conference (Austin) and WAC (Prague) being just a few: and there are rumours that this year AAA conference may be run as usual in December – but virtually! We await with interest news on how this will proceed!
While we are fearful for our many international colleagues and friends, we are focusing on our teaching and HDR students, and turning our creative energies to writing up many projects that have been awaiting our attention. The University sector is not unscathed by the current economic crisis that is sweeping the continent (and world) and we wish everyone well in coping with this ‘new normal’.
Happy Easter - wherever you are! Stay safe. Stay home. and … Wash. Your. Hands!