The 2023 SCAR SC-HASS Conference: with the theme: “The Antarctic for a Better World” hosted by Universidade Lusófona took place in June, Lisbon, Portugal.  There were more than 150 participants from all over the world and were welcomed with a Portuguese delicacy Pasties de Nata. The annual business meeting of SCHASS took place at the end of the conference where it was announced that next conference will be a hybrid and in 2027 the SCHASS conference will be in-person.

This year’s SC-HASS Conference was, as always, a wonderful experience. It was an honour to represent the newly established South African Polar Research Infrastructure, presenting on its prospects on connecting the society of South Africa with research of global interest, Marine and Antarctic research. Particularly valuable to me was the discussions and new connections made within the Public Engagement on Antarctic Research sessions we had during the conference and sharing ideas with communicators and researchers within various fields (social sciences, history, journalism, science communication, art, tourism), all with the focus on “science for the benefit of society”. I look forward continuing various discussions which initiated through this in-person conference –  Anche Louw (Digital Marketing and Communications Manager of SAPRI, Co-Investigator of the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa project, a SA representative on the Standing Committee on Humanities and Social Sciences (SCHASS) at SCAR and on the SA National Committee for SCAR and a member of the action group for Public Engagement with Antarctic Research (PEAR) at SCAR).

It was wonderful to meet up in person again with the Antarctic HASS community, after the last in-person meeting in Ushuaia, Argentina, in 2019. Since then, many of us have met and collaborated online, but there is something special and productive about being able to interact face to face. The talks were diverse and informative, we received excellent feedback on our papers, and made numerous contacts for future collaborative research – Charne Lavery (Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Pretoria, Co-director of the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South project, a South African Humanities and Social Sciences delegate to the international Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and PI on a South African National Research Foundation’s Antarctic Programme (SANAP) project: ‘Antarctica, Africa and the Arts’).

This was the best conference I have attended. Everyone was friendly and generous with their feedback. The conference was structured so that there was a tea or lunch after each session, facilitating continuing conversations outside of the presentation time. I thoroughly enjoyed it – Jean Brundrit (Teaches photography, researches and makes art in the Fine Art Department at the University of Cape Town).

I was delighted to participate in the Antarctic Hass conference this year. The range of intellectual interest I encountered there went well beyond the limits of my own literary investments in the region, and in ways that I found both productive and rewarding. I found the variety of approaches to how the Antarctic has and might be thought particularly interesting, and I was pleasantly surprised by how Antarctic Scholarship seems especially able to accommodate interdisciplinary modes of academic inquiry – Simon van Schalkwyk (Senior Lecturer in the Department of English Studies at the School for Literature Language and Media at the University of the Witwatersrand).

I’m new to this field and was a bit hesitant about presenting work that is still very much ‘in progress’ but am so glad that I did! The conference was an amazing opportunity to meet the Antarctic HASS community and to share ideas, contacts and resources –  Adrienne van Eeden-Wharton (Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pretoria on the Antarctica, Africa and the Arts project (NRF-SANAP funded project). 

The COVID pandemic change the conference environment. Since the last SCHASS in 2019 in Argentina the Social Sciences and Humanities community had online meetings and discussions and activities within this discipline carried on. Attending an in-person meeting made me once again realise that we are human beings, and we need human contact. It was great to meet with colleagues that I have become friends over the past years, it felt like a family reunion. The great networking that takes place outside of the presentations cannot be substitute by online symposia and conferences. It is great to be part of this standing committee of SCAR and its activities. The chance to further data management in the social sciences and humanities is always important – Ria Olivier (Principal Investigator and digital archivist of Antarctic Legacy of South Africa (ALSA) based at Stellenbosch University, member and SA representative of Standing Committees on Humanities and Social Science in Antarctica (SCHASS) and Antarctic Data Management (SCADM), and on the SA National Committee for SCAR). 

Conference closing ceremony: a performance by a university student musical band. We thank the organisers that delegates part of the SA National Antarctic Programme could attend this conference.

Photo Credit: Pasties de Nata and Musical band – SCHASS

Ria Olivier, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 23 August 2023

© South African National Antarctic Programme • Managed and administered by Antarctic Legacy of South Africa • Photo Credits
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