© Andrew Denzin

Connected by Water

The 2023 joint AIMA-ICUCH Conference is being held in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. The conference is being held in person but is also open to online attendance. The 2023 conference theme is Connected by water with sub themes of ratification of the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage and the archaeology and management of underwater cultural heritage. This theme and the sub themes were selected because they link to Australia progressing its consideration of ratification of the UNESCO 2001 Convention and pick up a key principle of the Convention regarding promotion of information exchange and shared heritage management.

This year’s conference is an opportunity to celebrate 40 years of Australia’s national Underwater Cultural Heritage Program and to reflect on the outcomes and achievements over that period. The conference is also an opportunity to promote and encourage broader regional uptake of the UNESCO 2001 Convention in the Pacific, Indian Ocean and Southeast Asian Region.

In addition, the significant threat that climate change poses to regional countries, including their underwater cultural heritage, is a salient challenge that should be met through collaboration, capacity building and training, and information exchange. The 2023 Conference will include themes reflective of Pacific Island State priorities that are echoed in Australia.

The 2023 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. 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 strives to be a platform for increasing the visibility of regional maritime research to the larger international community of specialists by promoting information exchange and shared management. In line with this principle, conference sponsors the Australian Government Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water and the Australian Underwater Cultural Heritage Program have committed to sponsoring several delegates’ attendance.

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 championing the principles of information exchange and shared heritage management through the discourse and practice of maritime archaeology in the region.

The AIMA-ICUCH 2023 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 water connects us all, historically, in the present and into the future.

The 2023 Conference is organised in cooperation with the ICOMOS – International Committee on the Underwater Cultural Heritage and hosted by the Australian Government Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.

We are looking forward to seeing you in Canberra.

The 2023 AIMA-ICUCH Conference Organising Committee.

Conference Events

  • Workshops/ Tours Monday 23 to Wednesday 25 September 
  • Welcome Drinks Wednesday 25 September (evening)
  • AIMA Conference Thursday 26 to Friday 27 September at the New Zealand Maritime Museum, Auckland
  • Fieldtrips TBA
  • AGM Thursday 26th September at the New Zealand Maritime Museum, Auckland
  • Conference Dinner Friday 27th September at the New Zealand Maritime Museum, Auckland

Key Dates

Call for Papers closes 31 July 2024. 

Conference Contact

Conference Organising Committee