Archaeology Ethics in Southeast Asia Workshop

Are you passionate about archaeology and committed to upholding ethical standards within the field? We invite you to participate in the Archaeology Ethics in Southeast Asia Workshop. This workshop aims to foster a deeper understanding of pressing ethical issues in the field of archaeology, such as gender and sex discrimination, accessibility and inclusivity of the discipline, as well as intellectual property rights, and to provide a platform for collaborative discussions on addressing these concerns.

Why Attend?

    In a field as multi-layered as Archaeology, understanding the ethics that guide our practice is paramount. Navigate the intricacies of ethical concerns, from gender discrimination to intellectual property rights, and be a trailblazer in setting the ethical compass for the industry.

Format & Structure

  • Hybrid Learning Experience: Four enriching online sessions culminating in a hands-on workshop during SPAFACON 2024 in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Industry Experts: Sessions led by distinguished speakers well-versed in ethical matters, primarily focusing on the Southeast Asian region.
  • Interactive Dialogue: Each seminar promotes moderated discussions to delve deeper into ethical matters, allowing participants to share personal experiences and concerns.
  • Case-Study Challenge: Put your knowledge to the test in a culminating case study activity during SPAFACON 2024.

Advisory Panel

Session 1 RECAP

SEAMEO SPAFA kickstarted the Archaeology Ethics in Southeast Asia on December 7th 2023, with the first session being the introduction to the workshop series and introduction of the panel of speakers. Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan, Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SPAFA welcomed the participants who attended the live session on Zoom and Facebook live. This workshop aims to raise awareness and encourage discussion around ethical issues in the field of Archaeology in Southeast Asia. Anne Valera, SPAFA researcher informed the participants about the hybrid format of the workshop series, where there are four online workshop: introductory session, gender and sex discrimination, inclusivity and accessibility of the discipline, and intellectual property, then followed by the case study activity and round table discussion in June 2024. The introductory session consisted of the panel of speakers presenting their perspectives on ethics and experiences in encountering ethical dilemma issues.

Kathleen Tantuico, lawyer and archaeologist from the Philippines, discussed the importance of ethics in Archaeology along with ethical guidelines in the Philippines, other countries, and regions. Tantuico emphasised that with the different standards about ethics around the world, archaeology communities should create the standard guidelines to maintain integrity in the discipline.

Dr Michael B.C. Rivera, bioarchaeologist and anthropologist also shared experiences and perspectives from working in the UK, the US, Singapore, the Netherlands and Hong Kong about ethics in the field of Archaeology. He highlighted the power dynamic and the importance in protecting and supporting each other to push the ethical practices in Archaeology. Dr Rivera noted that the idea of ethics can be different depending on the context and ethics can change regularly. He emphasised that creating a safe and supportive discipline is relevant for the development of the discipline.

Prof. Rasmi Shoocongdej, Archaeology professor at Silpakorn University, Thailand, noted that Archaeology can be viewed in positive and negative ways. Therefore she stressed the importance of communication and collaboration when practising Archaeology as it is crucial to understand, respect and protect the local heritage and the local communities.

Prof. Ben Marwick, of the University of Washington, presented several ways to define and approach ethics. He suggested that at a regional level, surveys can be used to determine the important principles and priorities in updating ethical guidelines regularly.

Assoc. Prof. Dougald O’Reilly, of the Australian National University, discussed the definition of being ethical and that ethics in each society can represent the social norms. Dr. O’Reilly shared approaches to be ethical in the profession of Archaeology including his experiences encountering ethical dilemmas in practising Archaeology.

Prof. Phaik Yeong Cheah, bioethicist and Professor of Global Health at the University of Oxford, emphasised the importance of collaboration and how practitioners can learn from each other to further develop the ethical guidelines and practices, including the relevance of open research in the times of crisis.

The session continued with a Question and Answer session where the panel fielded questions from the participants.

Resource Sheet (Session1)

Session 2 RECAP

The Archaeology Ethics in Southeast Asia Workshop held its second online session about Gender and Sex Discrimination on January 30, 2024, via Zoom. Emphasizing the importance of addressing discrimination in archaeology, the session began with an overview of participant survey results, revealing that one-third of the survey respondents faced challenges related to gender and sex discrimination. The case studies presented by Atty. Kathleen Tantuico, Dr. Michael B. C. Rivera, and Prof. Rasmi Shoocongdej explored real-world scenarios related to harassment, LGBTQ discrimination, and equal opportunity issues faced by archaeologists.

Participants engaged in in-depth discussions on various topics, including external offenders, cultural sensitivity, safe spaces, dress adaptation, age gap perceptions, and clear grievance mechanisms. Each case study prompted a thorough analysis of power dynamics, cultural considerations, gender disparities, and the importance of fostering diversity and inclusivity in archaeology.

During the Q&A, participants discussed diverse topics related to the session theme. Understanding cultural traditions, standardized definitions of conduct, and the suggested formation of a grievance committee for Southeast Asian archaeologists were highlighted. Participants also raised concerns about non-sexual harassment (e.g., hygienic issues), unaddressed instances of sexual and gender-based harassment, challenges in patriarchal societies, and the importance of safe spaces. While positive experiences related to cultural contexts and gender roles were shared, participants focused on the need for action to achieve equality and justice.

In the concluding synthesis, the moderator emphasized the significance of addressing gender and sex discrimination, summarizing key insights and proposed solutions from the case studies. The discussion recognized the impact of diverse cultural norms on power dynamics and sexual harassment, bringing attention to the need for clear standards, guidelines, and educational initiatives to address power imbalances and promote gender equality within the archaeological community.

While the workshop highlighted ongoing challenges, it also underscored the growing commitment to building a more inclusive and equitable archaeological community in Southeast Asia.

Resource Sheet (Session2)

Session 3 RECAP

Archaeology Ethics in Southeast Asia Workshop conducted a session on Accessibility and Inclusivity of the Discipline on February 20, 2024, via Zoom from 10 AM to 12 NN (GMT+7). The session commenced with a welcome and an overview of the importance of addressing accessibility and inclusivity issues in archaeology, outlining the session's structure, objectives, and expectations.

The central portion of the session comprised case study discussions presented by panel members Prof. Dougald O’Reilly and Prof. Ben Marwick. Dougald's case study delved into fieldwork considerations and inclusivity, presenting a scenario where a team member faced undisclosed mental health issues affecting her ability to participate. Participants engaged in discussions and proposed practical solutions, including implementing pre-excavation forms, management training for psychological safety, a buddy system, and creating a non-penalizing environment for mental health disclosure.

Ben's case study focused on accessible education and training, emphasizing the cultural and language challenges faced during a rock shelter excavation in northern Vietnam. Participants suggested involving local children through simple excavation activities, conducting show-and-tell rounds for community engagement, and implementing inclusive research designs that include local stakeholders.

A survey presentation, derived from a pre-session survey among participants, highlighted findings indicating that one-third of the respondents reported poor accessibility and a deterrence from pursuing careers in archaeology due to inclusivity concerns. Financial constraints, lack of training and research funding opportunities, physical accessibility, and cultural sensitivity were identified as significant factors affecting accessibility and inclusivity in the discipline of archaeology

During the sharing of experiences, participants from Southeast Asia discussed their insights into creating or encountering inclusive and accessible environments in archaeology. Examples include limited volunteer opportunities and engagement of locals in Thailand, a declining number of archaeologists in Vietnam, and the implementation of creative approaches, such as excavation boxes for children, in Indonesia

The question and answer session allowed participants to address various challenges, including accommodating persons with disabilities, collaborative efforts for excavation opportunities, and financial difficulties in archaeology careers. Accessibility of archaeological papers and knowledge, along with concerns about intentional bias, was also highlighted.

The session concluded with a synthesis by the moderator, Atty. Kathleen Tantuico, emphasizing key themes and practical solutions. The complexities of accessibility and inclusivity challenges in archaeology were underscored, with recommendations including pre-excavation forms, management training, and inclusive research designs. The collective experiences and suggestions from participants contribute to a growing awareness of the importance of making archaeology more accessible and inclusive, emphasizing the need for continued dialogue, collaboration, and practical implementations in the field.

Resource Sheet (Session3)

Session 4

The Archaeology Ethics in Southeast Asia Workshop's Intellectual Property Session held on March 19, 2024, via Zoom was an extensive exploration of key issues surrounding intellectual property in archaeology. The session was structured to provide a holistic understanding of the challenges and ethical considerations faced by researchers in the field. The session began with an introduction highlighting the importance of addressing intellectual property issues in archaeology, setting the stage for the subsequent discussions. A survey presentation offered valuable insights into the perspectives of respondents, revealing significant concerns about the ethical implications of commercial ventures, the ownership and repatriation of artefacts, and the prevalence of intellectual property disputes in archaeological work. Following the survey presentation, three case studies were presented by panel members, Prof. Ben Marwick, Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan, and Prof. Phaik Yeong Cheah, each focusing on different aspects of intellectual property and ethical dilemmas in archaeology and research. Ben's case study delved into artefact ownership, publication ethics, and data protection, sparking discussions on co-authorship criteria, export regulations, and open data publication. Noel's case study explored regulatory compliance, ethical conduct, and the role of state authority in overseeing archaeological research, prompting reflections on ethical considerations as well as open data publication and protection. Phaik Yeong's case study examined community engagement, data sharing, and preferential access to research data, leading to discussions on informed consent, indigenous rights, and collaborative research agreements. The subsequent question and answer session allowed participants to delve deeper into specific topics, including copyright laws for datasets, authorship criteria, and the implications of media monetization on archaeological sites. Participants engaged in lively discussions, exchanging perspectives and insights on various ethical and practical challenges faced in archaeological research. The session concluded with a synthesis by the moderator, Atty. Kathleen Tantuico, highlighting the key takeaways and emphasizing the importance of collaborative, ethical research practices in addressing intellectual property issues in archaeology. Overall, the session provided a valuable platform for participants to exchange ideas, share experiences, and collectively work towards promoting responsible research practices and safeguarding cultural heritage in Southeast Asia.

Resource Sheet (Session4)

Application & Eligibility

Register and Submit Your Application

Open to all for online sessions. Workshop and case-study participation require attendance at all online sessions and SPAFACON 2024.

Successful applicants will be notified via email.

We look forward to your active involvement in the Archaeology Ethics in Southeast Asia Workshop. Let's collectively contribute to fostering ethical practices and thoughtful discussions within the realm of archaeology. Stay tuned for further updates!
For inquiries, please contact