Archaeology and Theory: towards a theory of archaeological practice in Flanders

Target group

First and foremost, this specialist course is directed towards doctoral students in archaeology, associated with Ghent University. However, this course can also be of added value to related disciplines, such as (art) history. The participants with an archaeological background are expected to be familiar with the methods and general theoretical currents in archaeology. Participants from other disciplines are assumed to have knowledge of certain material categories or are supposed to be familiar with the history of at least one of the themes treated by the experts. Possible lacunas will be overcome by providing the necessary literature.

When the maximum number of participants is not achieved, candidates from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and KU Leuven are also welcomed to participate.


All PhD students

Organizing and Scientific Committee

  • Prof. Dr. Roald Docter, Ghent University, Greek Archeology
  • Maxime Poulain MA, PhD student, Ghent University, Archeology

This specialist course is not framed within a certain collaboration, but fits in with the seminar series organized by the Ghent Institute for Classical Studies (GICS), the Henri Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies and the Department of Archaeology.

Topic and theme

As archaeology in Flanders is mainly data-driven and not a single course at Flemish universities is entirely dedicated to archaeological theory, doctoral students often lack a clear theoretical framework for interpreting the observed patterns.  
Moreover, since the English translation of Pierre Bourdieu’s ‘Esquisse d'une théorie de la pratique’ in 1977, this theoretical framework has developed rapidly. The focus on practice in this post-structuralist discourse resulted in myriads of theoretical concepts (such as the Actor-Network Theory). However, the choice for a certain concept and the implementation of these, often abstract, concepts within archaeological practice is not straightforward.
This specialist course deals with these issues. The papers given by the experts and the following discussions provide the doctoral student with the necessary knowledge to apply such theoretical concepts to their own research.

Six sessions are organized in which experts give a broad overview of current (and past) theoretical approaches. These talks are followed by presentations of the participating doctoral students, implementing some of the treated theoretical concepts into their own research.


  • Wednesday 30 September 2015 (Auditorium K – Rozier/Plateau)

Introductory session

  • Wednesday 25 November 2015 (Auditorium K – Rozier/Plateau)

Prof. Dr. Harold Mytum: Memory and materiality of World War I

  • Wednesday 27 January 2016 (zaal Henri Pirenne-UFO, St. Pietersnieuwstraat 33, Gent)

Prof. Dr. Marcos Martinon-Tórres: Archaeological theories and archaeological sciences

  • Wednesday 17 February 2016 (zaal Henri Pirenne-UFO)

Prof. Dr. John Bintliff: A brief history of archaeological theory: a personal view

  • Wednesday 16 March 2016 (zaal Henri Pirenne-UFO)

Dr. Sara Perry: Visualisation and interpretation in archaeology

  • Wednesday 27 April 2016 (zaal Henri Pirenne-UFO)

Dr. Tom Brughmans - Why network science in archaeology?

  • Wednesday 25 May 2016 (zaal Henri Pirenne-UFO)

Prof. Dr. Guy Halsall: Thinking about identities

Registration fee

Free of charge for members of the Ghent University Doctoral Schools

Registration and contact information

Please send an e-mail to Maxime Poulain (, mentioning the course title, your name, first name, student number, Doctoral School, Department, and your research background.

Number of participants

Maximum 12

Evaluation criteria (doctoral training programme)

- 100% presence
- Active participation in the discussions
- Presentation

Each participant is expected to read the provided literature so that the considered theoretical concepts can be integrated into the presentation.