Dear Colleague, or better Dear Friend,
This is a mail which should have been send earlier to you. In my mind I have written it a few times but that is not very helpful when I want to reach you. And as usual when I sit myself down to write thinks go boink in the night. A sudden and large loss of files and access to my mail did not help me And the last 5 days have been spend in salvaging as much as possible. “Back-up,” I hear you think. In my defence I wish to point out that making a backup was the cause of my troubles. But at last I’m now able to write you.
First of all I wish to thank you. Undoubtedly you noticed but the nomination committee has found it in its heart to give me a place on the ballot. Your quick response to my question for your support has felt more than warm. It is good to know that there are people out there, that with kind words tell you that they know and or feel that you are the right person for the job. That feeling is something which I will take with me regardless of the result.
I undoubtedly have something to tell but I have noticed that functioning as a politician especially within EAA is a bit alien to me. I don’t doubt I can make useful contributions and help Felipe, the Board and the members to realize the agenda which is now on the table. Probably I should have campaigned but it feels uncomfortable. The hidden Calvinist in me is sort of telling me: “act normal. that is strange enough.”
Hopefully you have noticed my Candidate Statement (See underneath). It is an honest attempt to get the message across that I don’t seek I job but would truly like to be more involved and help to form our shared future. I wish to do things differently and hope that you will be part of that shared journey. The traditional path of the (amateur-)politician with the traditional buzz words are not bad but is not very helpful to my way of thinking. And I think that my way of doing thing is more connected to the issues and aims at hand.
On social media you see nowadays post starting with: “dare to ask.” Let’s follow that example. I would like to ask your help. Yes there are votes out there. Yes, you could call it campaigning. If you are so inclined like and retweet things that people, supporters, friends have put on Twitter, for instance. But I would really like your help to get the message across which I try to tell. Not about power but more about connections and wellbeing for archaeologists, but certainly for society as well. More fun, a sense of wellbeing and even happiness. It is a joy to be an archaeologist and if we are willing to share among ourselves and outside of our group things will start to happen. Is this a message of silly simple naiveté; a dream? Maybe a little. But I do believe in the hardnosed realities of Enlightened Self-Interest. If you want to farm you must trust that what you sow will come to fruit.
My question is will you help me with sowing?
Just enjoy the meetings you will have and sow. Mention my name or someone else who has the same ideas. Make connections. Enjoy the feast of meeting the other, our fellow archaeologist. We are much more than scientists or researchers we are warm blooded creatures that like to connect and tell stories. In that sense we can go back to a time before the Odyssey was put to paper. Our roots are much deeper than the Enlightment.
So very much looking forward to meet you. And if not at EAA then somewhere else.
The year was 2000 and I, Mark Spanjer went for the first time to the European Association of Archaeologists in Lisbon. I can still see the Centro Cultural de Belem in my mind’s eye. It was strange, new and wonderful but at the same time a sort of homecoming. One thing was clear when I went home: there is a European Archaeology! For many it is not very recognizable yet and it is an aspect of our profession that is mostly ignored, but it is real and important.
Attending almost all of the conferences since Lisbon I have benefited greatly from my experiences I was privileged to have during these meetings. It made me a better archaeologist. New ideas, different problems; perspectives and a broader sense or knowledge of a shared past have been given to me. Over the years EEA, the contacts with colleagues, members, have helped to form my methods, techniques and thinking. It started my journey of discovery about what is that makes us connect across (modern) borders. You will not understand Europeans or Humans if you stay between artificial lines of the Nation State. And the understanding what makes us humans is at the core of our endeavours.
Who am I? An archaeologist with an interest in Medieval and Modern Archaeology and a love of cities. Apart from that I’m a historian as well, a diplomat and a storyteller with a deep interest in people gone but also very much in the here and now. A good understanding of institutional relationships and an eye for possible connections are among my talents. Within EAA I have been at the forefront of efforts to improve co-ordination, communication and understanding between archaeologists in all parts of Europe.
European Archaeology is still in it’s infancy. EAA is the vehicle which will help us to actively nurture and protect is. If elected as a Board member I would be very much involved in advancing and moulding this idea. For the good and enjoyment of our shared heritage as Europeans. But also for the betterment of us Archaeologists. In my role as a ‘connector’ I would very much strive to strengthen and broaden the existing network, the bones of our European Archaeology. Tactically and strategically looking for means to let our Association gain relevancy and strength. If elected, or even if I’m not, I look forward to the coming journey.