A new conference for you, CIfA in Cardiff. The first session up is my and Cara Jones session of the future of engagement in archaeology (yes, there is an amazing video on Opera and Archaeology!):
In the fiscal year 2013-14 more jobs were advertised on BAJR and the Jobs Information Service for Archaeology Public Engagement than for Supervisor positions or Senior Managers or Consultants or a whole host of other positions. Engaging with the people is fast become one of the largest sub-sectors of archaeological work. But where is engagement going? Themes we wish to discuss within this session include:
• Will Public Archaeology become its own profession?
• Will we change how we interact with people in the future, as new methods of engagement (such as digital) become more attainable for all?
• Who will undertake engagement on behalf of professional archaeologists – Universities, Charities, Commercial Units, or with budgets cuts, the public themselves through peer-to-peer learning and support?
• And as the range of stakeholders increase, will practitioners becoming more fractured and isolated or will support be readily available?
The goal of this session is to explore the future of engagement of/with archaeology with people. We want to examine- where are we heading or where do we want to go in Public Archaeology. We invite anyone to submit a paper on the future of engagement in archaeology.
Community driven archaeology
David Connolly, BAJR
Public archaeology has transformed beyond recognition over the past 50 years, from passive viewers of excavations through pot washing and the rise of the local archaeology society. As community digs became widespread, ‘local stakeholders’ could be ‘engaged’ in ‘heritage projects’ that would somehow be the end rather than the means. But was this, or indeed is this, sustainable and a best use of resources for both local communities and archaeology itself?
An examination of three separate projects highlighted the aspects that actually work in this growing field. It leads to a number of conclusions, two of which can be argued to be fundamental to the ongoing success of Public Archaeology. First; that the field archaeologist should not feel pressured into being intrinsically capable of this sub discipline of archaeology, as it requires a skillset of its own that requires specific specialist training.
Second; rather than seeing the archaeology as the whole project, the project should see archaeology as one element, and a number of cross cultural connections can then be explored including dance, music, theatre, visual arts and poetry to suit.
Participation in itself does not have to revolve solely around education, and archaeology can benefit to being open to the many voices of the community, rather than speaking to the community it chooses to engage with a single monotone voice.
Why opera refreshes the archaeology other artforms fail to reach
Peter Morgan Barnes, Director
In the Nov/Dec edition of British Archaeology Peter Morgan Barnes wrote a joint article with Mark Redknap the Head of Archeology and Numismatics at Amgueddfa Cymru, The National Museum of Wales; this paper will expand on that article. Several operas have been commissioned in recent years to explore different excavations. Why opera? The paper explores why a story which is told wholly through music has an emotional and psychological resonance which is lacking when a story is told through a mixture of dialogue and music. Archaeology often has lacunae in the narrative it can present for a particular site. When that narrative is presented operatically, the very artificiality of the artform allows those lacunae to stand; in theatre the demands of the artform often insist on them being filled, thus moving the story further away from what can be proved or demonstrated.
The sensory world of archaeology, accessibility and inclusivity
Victoria Reid, Access To Archaeology
The future of archaeological engagement is through inclusivity, making theory and fieldwork accessible. How disability is viewed has changed dramatically, the Paralympics have given new hopes to those who previously have been excluded from activities that they have an interest in. Hubert shows that disability and social exclusion have been always present in the archaeological record. It is our responsibility to ensure that barriers are removed. With the continued popularity of community archaeology and the discrimination act being part of today’s world, we have no option but to become inclusive.
Physical boundaries such as mobility issues can be overcome. Although some adaptations may be costly, others just involve time to consider the way that that individual perceives the world and how they have adapted to overcome challenges.
Working with individuals with vision impairments has been an enlightening experience, workshops have been planned to maximise the way they perceive the world. A focus group based around making archaeology more accessible to those with visual impairment highlighted that, those with visual they tended to be able to feel textural differences and be more considered in their excavation methods and finds processing. Phillips recent investigation into those with various physical and behavioural and learning difficulties in the archaeological workplace highlights that archaeology is becoming more inclusive.
This paper presents a case study specifically focus on presenting the prehistoric period to those with visual impairments and how to successfully create an immersive and informative workshop that can be used as a good practice template.
The delicate relationship between the profession and ‘amateur’ archaeologists. Is divorce Imminent?
Hayley Roberts, Bournemouth University
‘Community Archaeology’ and ‘Professional Archaeology’ were childhood sweethearts. Both had a similar upbringing; self-funded parents who became proponents of a scientific methodology. Their relationship blossomed in their early with highlights such as Sir Mortimer Wheeler’s excavations at Maiden Castle, where they explored new methods and ideologies together. However, as their relationship is starting to mature, it has become tumultuous, with each side acquiring their own desires and distractions. ‘The Profession’ has taken a shine to standards and regulations whilst ‘Community Archaeology’ has eloped with the Heritage Lottery Fund and is increasingly attracted to well being.
Communication is the key to any healthy relationship but between these two parties the flow of information has stagnated. This presentation will address issues from both sides, starting by understanding the history of the relationship before looking towards the future. What is ‘Community Archaeology’ doing? How are they doing it? What effect is this having on the Record and ‘The Profession’?
Understanding the situation that ‘Community Archaeology has found itself in is paramount but ‘Professional Archaeology’ also needs to take a critical look at itself. Why are amateurs not more involved in excavations? How can we increase trust and communication? How will ‘non-professional’ archaeologists fit with CIfA?
Only once dialogue is flowing in both directions can these two partners work together and a comfortable relationship be re-established. Drawing on the early stages of PhD research this paper would like to be the first of many counselling sessions, starting by contemplating the accusations from both parties.
Let’s establish the facts before filling for divorce.
A brief examination of public outreach currently undertaken by commercial archaeology
Alice O’Mahony, University of Bradford
This paper will focus on preliminary research evaluating the current public outreach undertaken by commercial archaeology. Developer funded archaeology is promoted as being for public benefit, yet how effective it is in terms of public engagement has not been extensively evaluated. Current academic literature discusses community outreach schemes; however, these are usually concerned with already established heritage areas. This paper is a foundation for a larger project focused on two areas of developer funded archaeology: firstly, the current level of interaction between commercial archaeological units and the public during developer funded excavation; secondly, the amount of collected data that is communicated to the public after the completion of these excavations. The objective of the research is to inform the ways in which developer-community interaction with local heritage issues could benefit the public perception of archaeology as a whole, with the scope of using community led projects as examples, to generate policies of ‘best practice’. This paper looks to open discussions concerning methods that render public involvement with commercial archaeology financially feasible, whilst maintaining the ethical principles of inclusive local participation in heritage.
Prydain oddi Fry / Britain from Above
Crowdsourcing and Community Archaeology
The work of the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust
Visible diggers? Engagement and communication: a student perspective
Matthew Hitchcock, Stephanie McCulloch and Liya Walsh, University of Manchester
This is a session that is about the future of engagement, and we are the future of engagement! We are a team of students undertaking a piece of research to understand whether students feel valued, and indeed whether they are valued, in the interpretive process. In this paper we will present the findings of our study and we will think about the implications of them for how engagement occurs – can the experiences of students help us think about how we communicate in the field with other audiences who do archaeology?
The future of engagement with archaeology in rural areas: challenges and opportunities
Paul Belford, Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust
Despite the continuing maturation of public archaeology, as a sub-discipline within the profession it remains under-theorised and sometimes lacks sufficiently rigorous frameworks for implementation and delivery. In particular, the practice of ‘community archaeology’ has tended to be an urban one – where there are relatively large pools of potential participants, good public transport links, well-developed existing infrastructures for disabled and disadvantaged groups, and – not least – good mobile data coverage. In contrast, rural areas lack these underpinnings. Low population density and poor communication make sustainable long-term engagement difficult to achieve. Powys, for example, has a population density of 25 people per square kilometre, against 2,505 per square kilometre in Cardiff. There are also significantly different cultural attitudes to ‘heritage’ in rural areas, and issues of language, identity and authority are also very important factors in parts of Wales. Drawing on recent work in mid-Wales and elsewhere, this paper examines the difficulties inherent in delivering public archaeology projects and programmes in rural areas. The regional model of the Welsh Archaeological Trusts will be outlined as a mechanism for developing sustainable delivery of engagement elsewhere; the paper will also suggest alternative approaches to engagement in rural areas that will have broader relevance across the UK for the future.
To see more videos like these please go to the YouTube channel Recording Archaeology- http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC08QKQO1qs6OPQs9l1kMQPg