The researchers find lively discussions (Attribution & Copyright: J. Sigl)
SPP Annual Meeting in Cologne
After five years of running, it is time to compare initial results: the SPP Entangled Africa is entering the home straight with the 2024 annual conference. It was therefore dedicated to presenting the goals achieved so far and the plans for publishing the generated research data in particular. The conclusion of the programme and its impact in the period after funding were also discussed.
Each Entangled Africa project has collected, processed and interpreted a wide range of such data in recent years. From pollen identification and road utilisation data to pottery and language studies, a very diverse mix of data has been generated. Nevertheless, it was possible to derive exciting cross-regional, cross-period and cross-project findings. Connections came to light that were previously invisible or barely visible. In order to make the research data and the information gained from it available beyond the time of the SPP, it must now be processed and stored sustainably over the coming months. This is a task in which the research data management project at the University of Cologne is providing valuable and important assistance.
On the second day, the working groups presented their work to date. Here, too, the focus was on research data management. As most of the WGs already have a strong thematic focus on supra-regional networking, existing connections were particularly easy to recognise here. The final presentation of the FAIR.rdm project took up the various RDM aspects of the previous presentations and presented an overarching solution on how the metadata of all the research data collected in the SPP in particular can be brought together in order to link them and make them findable over the long term.
In addition to the scientific presentations, the conference participants enjoyed an extensive supporting programme. The annual conference kicked off informally on the evening before the first day of lectures in a typical Cologne brewery with local cuisine and beer as well as international specialities – the main thing was that it tasted good.
We are particularly pleased that we were also able to honour Hans-Peter Wotzka, head of the SPP project on the Inner Congo Basin and long-standing professor at the University of Cologne, as part of our conference in cooperation with the Institute of Prehistory and Early History at the University of Cologne. Hans-Peter Wotzka was bid farewell to his retirement at the end of the semester with a laudatory speech via internet link by Manfred Eggert and words in German and Lingála. The atmosphere at the subsequent evening buffet was very relaxed and the honoured man was visibly delighted.
Continuing a tradition from the last annual conference in Frankfurt, the end of the conference was once again open to all interested parties for a visit to the museum. After the last lecture had been given, the last questions discussed and the last lunch buffet eaten, most of the conference participants made their way to the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum in Cologne city centre. There, junior curator Tensae Walae Desta gave a guided tour of the special exhibition “I miss You”, which deals with the processing of colonial art theft and the restitution of objects – a topic that also affects European researchers in Africa in many ways.
After these successful, collegial and exciting two days, the participants made their way back to their workplaces with vigour, despite irregularities in rail transport. Now it is up to us as coordinators to make next year’s final annual conference a very special event…