© Andrew Denzin

Decolonising Maritime Archaeology, Heritage and Museums in Australasia

The 2022 AIMA Conference is being held in Adelaide, South Australia. The conference is being held in person, but is also open to online attendance.The conference will address inclusiveness in our field and the decolonising of our discipline. It will provide an opportunity to engage in dialogue around the meaning, approaches and lessons for ‘decolonising’ maritime archaeology, maritime museums, and underwater cultural heritage. The Conference will bring together attendees from all over the world to promote voices and perspectives that are not usually heard. It will consider the ways that colonial privilege and access affects how we approach our discipline, and examine strategies for shifting control over Indigenous property, knowledge and concerns back to the Indigenous communities themselves. It will also serve as a platform for the exchange and dissemination of information about maritime archaeological projects from the greater Australasian and surrounding regions.

This year’s conference is also a celebration and reflection on the growth of our discipline. 2022 marks 40 years of AIMA as an organisation and contributor to Australasian maritime archaeology. It also is the 20-year anniversary of the Maritime Archaeology Program at Flinders University. These two institutions have trained, supported and engaged with members and alumni from countries all over the world. They have helped our discipline learn and adapt with improved ethical standards, technical advancements and innovative approaches.

The 2022 AIMA Conference is intended to bring together scholars, researchers and working archaeologists to publicise and discuss maritime archaeology topics and research that affect the broad region of Australasia, Oceania, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean. It sees the study of maritime archaeology, including submerged landscapes and nautical archaeologies, as key to understanding broader anthropological questions from human dispersals to economic, social and political transformations in communities throughout the world.

AIMA has made significant progress in recent years by supporting scholars from regional, non-Western countries to attend the conference and share their research and perspectives. Nevertheless, research from non-Western countries and marginal or Indigenous communities has typically been underrepresented at this event. Attendees from these areas are often excluded by cost, inconvenience or cultural barriers. The Conference Committee believes that it is particularly important to bring together specialists in a single gathering focused on regional studies, and to break down the barriers to attendance and participation. The Conference is expected to become a platform for increasing the visibility of regional maritime research to the larger international community of specialists by empowering voices and perspectives that have typically been marginalised. 

The principal objectives of the Conference are:

  • to provide a forum for the discussion and exchange of research on maritime archaeology in Australasia, Oceania, Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean
  • to allow scholars, researchers, professional archaeologists, and others the opportunity to meet, discuss and establish personal networks as a means of widening the discourse about maritime cultural heritage
  • to raise the profile of maritime studies from Australasia, Oceania, Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean as a significant part of the region’s cultural heritage and explanator of human behaviour.

Together, these approaches aspire towards a decolonised discourse on maritime archaeology of the region.

The 2022 Conference encourages participation encompassing archaeological theory, methodology and interpretation in maritime archaeology, museology and cultural heritage management, and to consider in particular the ways that colonial privilege and access have affected the approaches of these disciplines. The sea has been a universal constant for the peoples of this broad region, stretching from the South Pacific to the eastern shores of Africa, even as its sea levels and boundaries change, and the AIMA Conference plans to consider how we approach maritime cultural heritage to understand our shared human past, and why.

The 2022 AIMA Conference is organised in cooperation with Flinders University’s Maritime Archaeology Program, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, the Australian Association for Maritime History and the Australia and New Zealand Scientific Diving Association.

Note that early bird registration is open until 1 August. We are looking forward to seeing you in Adelaide.

The 2022 AIMA Conference Organising Committee.

Conference Events

  • Welcome Drinks 21 September 2022
  • Conference 21 -23 September 2022
  • Fieldtrips TBC
  • AGM 4pm 23 September 2022
  • Conference Dinner Jolleys Boathouse Friday 23 September 2022

Key Dates

Photo Competition closes  12 September 2022

Conference Contact

Conference Organising Committee
conference@aima-underwater.org.au