SMA Annual Conference 2019: Call for Papers

Posted On: January 7th, 2019

Society for Medieval Archaeology 2019 Annual Conference

The “Long” Black Death: New perspectives

King’s Manor, University of York (UK), 5-6 July 2019

A recent upsurge in scholarly interest in the Black Death – its origins, spread and impact on medieval society – has been driven by methodological advances across a range of disciplines. New techniques have allowed the causal agent of the 14th-century pandemic – Yersinia Pestis – to be confirmed, and identified in ways which are throwing new light on the origins and spread of the Black Death. Meanwhile, expanding datasets from disciplines as diverse as climatology, genetics and history are enabling the complexities of the relationship between pandemic, society and environment to be explored in new detail. As the profundity of the impact of the Black Death, in the short, medium and long term, becomes increasingly evident, interest is growing in the role of plague across the world in other periods. This is given added urgency by the knowledge that microbial resistance to antibiotics now used to treat plague is growing, thus interest in plague pandemics may not for much longer be confined to the past.

Archaeology is central to these new developments as it is the recovery and analysis of physical evidence which has underpinned recent advances in knowledge and understanding. But because current research spans so many different disciplines and an ever-increasing number and range of outputs, there is a need to bring together emerging research – and researchers – if work in different fields is to be mutually informed as it moves forward. This conference aims to do this, exploring four key questions: Why then? Why there? What happened? What next? Our keynote speaker is Professor Monica Green (Arizona State University), who will address the wider implications of the evolving understanding of the ‘long’ Black Death for plague studies globally.

Offers of papers are now invited from researchers in any fields exploring aspects of the Black Death. These may encompass studies of societal preconditions and biological mechanisms which explain the timing and virulence of the 14th-century pandemic; analyses of its mortality and morbidity including the latest cemetery studies which illuminate and contextualise the immediate demographic impact; and studies which explore the longer-term impact of the pandemic on later medieval society and environment.  Papers presenting new methodological approaches will also be welcome.

Offers of papers (20-30 minutes) should include an abstract (c. 250 words max.) with 1-2 relevant recent publications/ conference presentations if appropriate, to be emailed to by 31/1/2019 for review by the Society for Medieval Archaeology Council. The Society will offer complimentary registration and a fixed grant towards the costs of attendance for accepted speakers.

The conference is being jointly organised by Professor Carenza Lewis (University of Lincoln) and Professor Dawn Hadley (University of York). There will be a separate call for poster submissions in Spring 2019, and the conference will also include a student workshop, details for which will be available shortly via the Society’s website.