Stories from Berlin: The Dynamic Aviation Heritage of People and Things
In the context of human history’s longue durée, aviation is a new modality, an opportunity for travel, for new perspectives on a supposedly familiar world, and a significant new factor in armed conflict. Space-flight is an extreme example, with space tourism an obvious consequence. In all its forms, aviation has made the world a much smaller place. As archaeologists, it is not only the contemporary world we experience as we fly over it, but the layers of past activity that are also visible on its surface. While anyone can see the former, and make some sense of it, it takes skill and training to see the latter, and to read the landscape in terms of the human behaviours that have shaped it over millennia. This, however, is only the traditional view of aviation heritage, as aerial archaeology: the past in the present. In this lecture I will promote the broader view, arguing that aviation heritage also provides a window on both a ‘contemporary past’ (that which comes up to date) and a ‘future past’ (a prediction of what comes next, and what will survive of the present into the future). To illustrate these various points and to provide focus, I will build this talk around the diverse aviation heritage of a single city (Berlin, Germany), illustrating how these many perspectives interlock and cross-refer creating a complex, significant and universal heritage, of ‘modernism, machines, migration and memories’.
Professor John Schofield is an archaeologist based at the University of York (UK), where he is Director of Studies in Cultural Heritage Management, and was Head of Department from 2012-18. Prior to his appointment to York in 2010 John spent 21 years with English Heritage, in a variety of roles concerning heritage protection and policy. During this time he managed a research programme on Second World (including aviation) heritage. Some of the sites John investigated were places where his parents were stationed during his father’s time in the RAF, and where John spent time as a child. These experiences will influence John’s talk at the conference, touching on archaeology from the air, the archaeology of things that fly through it, and the infrastructure to support flight. John is a regular visitor to Australia, where he is an adjunct professor at Griffith University, and Honorary Research Fellow at Flinders. He is also Docent at the University of Turku in Finland, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and a Member of the Chartered Institute of Archaeologists.