Preliminary Conference Information, Schedule and Call for Papers


Venues: Chicago (DePaul University Lincoln Park and Loop Campuses; Hotel Florence at the Pullman State Historic Site, Pullman National Monument)

Co-hosted by: Lake Forest College and DePaul University, with additional support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Archaeological Institute of America’s Chicago Chapter.

Co-Organizers: Rebecca Graff (Lake Forest College) and Jane Eva Baxter (DePaul University)

Friday Evening Keynote: Edward González-Tennant (Department of Anthropology, University of Central Florida)

Saturday Morning Keynote: Stacey L. Camp and Lynne Goldstein (Department of Anthropology, Michigan State University)

Conference Theme: Contested Sites in Archaeological and Contemporary Contexts

Chicago is a city with a long history of contested sites, spaces, and places. Battles for lakefront land have raged since the late 19th century when Montgomery Ward fought tenaciously to preserve lakefront lands for public use and block the development of the Field Museum. In 2016, the Friends of the Parks filed suit based on the Ward claim—much to the dismay of many powerful Chicagoans—and the multi-million dollar George Lucas Museum was thereby turned away from the Chicago lakefront to build elsewhere. Sites and monuments associated with the Haymarket Square Bombing have been relocated, venerated, and desecrated at different times in Chicago’s history. Today, controversy surrounds the Obama Presidential Center, soon to be constructed in Jackson Park, the former site of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition .Yet the resultant narratives of city life that these contested locations engender rarely reflect a sense of anything archaeological, either in terms of attention to the many layers of lived experiences that form the sites, or the archaeological resources that they contain.

Contention around sites can enter into archaeological discourse in many ways. An archaeological sensibility—one that engages with materiality, strata, assemblage—can negate, benefit, or merely complicate site interpretations. Some sites are sensitive for their histories and resonate in the present as meaningful places of heritage precisely because of the past conflicts and struggles that took place there. Other sites that may not have had a particularly charged history turn contentious as they become embroiled in the political, practical, and symbolic concerns of contemporary communities. Chicago provides many high profile examples of contested sites of many kinds, but we all encounter challenges in our work as we engage diverse stakeholders in the present and craft narratives of the past that interpret sites in all their complexities.


We invite presentations around the themes of contestation to discuss how these dynamics of site interpretation and management enter into our work across the Midwest.

Short papers of 10 minutes or less are encouraged, as are posters.  The exact format will be determined by the number of abstracts received.

For those interested in presenting a paper or poster, please submit an abstract of no more than 200 words to Jane Eva Baxter by July 1, 2018 for consideration. Student presentations are very welcome!


Friday, October 19

DePaul University’s Lincoln Park Campus

2:00-4:00PM: Optional bus tour of Jackson Park/Obama Presidential Center

5:30-6:30PM:Keynote: Edward González-Tennant (Department of Anthropology, University of Central Florida)


Saturday, October 20

DePaul University’s Loop Campus (1 E. Jackson Blvd. Chicago, IL 60604)/Pullman National Monument (11111 S. Forrestville Ave Chicago, IL 60628)

8:00-8:30AM: Registration and Coffee

8:30-9:45AM: Saturday Morning Keynote: Stacey L. Camp and Lynne Goldstein (Department of Anthropology, Michigan State University)

9:45-10:00AM: Break

10:00AM-12:00PM: Presentations

1:00PM: Train to Pullman (Depart from Millennium Station, 151 N. Michigan Ave. Chicago, Illinois 60602)

1:45-3:00: Meet at Hotel Florence for Welcome from National Park Service Ranger followed by choice of guided and self-guided tours of Pullman.

3:00-5:00PM: Convene to discuss pre-circulated article and themes of conference and presentations

5:00PM: Reception

Stay tuned for more information regarding the program and logistics! We will be updating the site in late August with registration information, a final program, and information about hotels convenient to our conference venues.