2020 Session 14

Session 14: In the Mind of the Boatbuilder: Asia Pacific studies in Maritime Ethno-archaeology


The study of contemporary maritime cultures and their materials through first hand observation, maritime ethnography is a ‘relatively’ new tool available to maritime archaeologists. By using ethnographic analogies, archaeologists can propose hypothetical reconstructions of incomplete objects or structures, suggest the possible use of enigmatic structural elements, and describe in detail how the object or structure was made.  Ethno-archaeology can provide clues or suggest ways of thinking about past cultures, and serve as a launch pad for retrospective enquiry.  Analogous applications of ethnography to archaeology allow us to breach temporal and spatial gaps by using information derived from one context (the present) to help explain data found in another (the past). 

In keeping with the Conference theme and proposed sub-theme (8), ‘Nautical Technology in Asia-Pacific’, this session is intended to provide a forum for researchers from ethnography, archaeology, anthropology, digital humanities and related disciplines, to exchange ideas, present new research and explore challenges in the collection, investigation, interpretation and dissemination of maritime ethno-archaeological data.

The focus of ‘In the Mind of the Boatbuilder: Asia Pacific Studies in Maritime Ethno-archaeology’ will be on water transport technology in Asia-Pacific, including regional studies and collaborative projects, which employ innovative and emerging technologies, observe boatbuilding traditions and explore archeological evidence for traditional boats, social practices, maritime rituals and associated traditions.

        We invite researchers from across the Asia Pacific region to submit papers on topics including, but not limited to:

  • ancient seafaring in Asia-Pacific;
  • boat ethnography in Asia-Pacific;
  • ethno-archaeological studies of water transport systems and practices,
  • new and emerging technologies for recording traditional boats; and
  • ethnographic studies of maritime rituals and traditions in boat construction.

We particularly welcome submissions that provide new information about regional seafaring that is changing our understanding of human history and creating opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration beyond national boundaries.

Session Organizers:

Sarah Ward
Visiting Professor of Maritime Archaeology, Centre for Maritime History and Culture Research
Dalian Maritime University, Dalian, China.

Ying Ying Yan
Researcher, Institute of Ancient Chinese Ships
Ningbo, China