This past Friday morning, with my colleagues Becky Wragg Sykes and Suzie Pilaar Birch, we held a first webinar as part of our project "Reconstructing Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherer Mobility". This is a project sponsored by INQUA (the International Union for Quaternary Science), and it aims to "[e]stablish the current state of knowledge and unite diverse research practices regarding prehistoric hunter-gatherer mobility, as an essential step to building coherent and robust frameworks for future interdisciplinary inquiry". Basically, in spite of the importance of mobility to our understanding of what it means to be a forage, we felt there has been comparatively little critical reflection of how to define the concept and measure it across multiple scales and classes of material evidence. Our project hopes to bring together researchers interested in tackling the theoretical and empirical dimensions of hunter-gatherer mobility in a multidisciplinary light to develop robust frameworks to its archaeological study across diverse contexts. The project now has a web page (Reconstructing Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherer Mobility) which serves as a nexus for the different people involved and a repository of information about our activities. It's still getting of the ground, but it will be considerably more fleshed out in the very near future.
Turning to last week's activity, the first webinar's goal was to get project members together to introduce the overall scope of the project as well as to outline the goals we hope to achieve. Aside from a problem with one of the hosts' mic filtering through AdobeConnect as though she was a modern-day incarnation of Zuul, I have to say, I was extremely pleased with how the webinar worked. We were able to combine both live voice and camera interventions and include a spirited discussion on a live chat in addition to running a slideshow. It was my first time participating in a webinar, and color me impressed! I was happy to see that the participants included a range of archaeologists specialized in various methods (lithics, zooarchaeology, stable isotopes) as well as people with specialties in anthropological genetics, among others - it made for a very productive discussion, indeed we had to cut off discussion after about two hours, which I'll take as a sign of the interest the project is generating!
The project grew out of a seminar Becky and I organized at the 2014 UISPP meetings in Burgos that went very well and was quite well attended; that enthusiasm is in part what prompted us to develop it into INQUA Project 1502P. As part of this structure, we were awarded some seed funding to hold a first workshop, which we were able to considerably supplement by a Connection Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada which we were awarded this past October. The next phase of the project will be that first workshop that will be hosted by the Anthropology Department at Université de Montréal on February 12-13 2016. More details will follow in the coming weeks, both on the blog and on the RPHGM website, so be sure to check back again soon!