RIP Theresa O’Mahony

Posted on September 24, 2019


I have just got in from the field to discover that Theresa O’Mahony passed away on Sunday. She was a tireless advocate for disabled archaeologists and for the inclusion of those with disabilities into archaeology. She created the enabled archaeology foundation

fought so many battles I don’t think anyone has be able to count them all. I have recorded here speak at least five times, I could swear it was more but that is all I could find. I probably won’t be able to watch them for a long while but if you never knew Theresa O’Mahony I can not recommend enough you listen to what she had to say. I don’t think archaeology has ever had an advocate like her, may never again.

The Dis/Advantages and Advantages of Enabled Archaeological Holistic Fieldwork

The Enabled Archaeology Foundation did their first week of newly created inclusion methods in 2018, partnering with the Bamburgh Research Project. This presentation will discuss the successes and drawbacks we encountered and how this experimental archaeology developed. Our partnerships with other groups until 2021 will also be debated, finishing with the beneficial effects for both groups, dis/Abled participants and the holistic therapy that can be achieved within wider societal goals.

Theresa O’Mahony (Enabled Archaeology Foundation)

Positive Past, Present and Future Changes in Archaeology

As a dis/Abled enabled archaeologist my paper will examine the positive examples of past dis/Abilities, from Neanderthals to the medieval period which illustrates extended positive social cohesion within some past communities. Osteoarthritis will be discussed as this condition links from the medieval period to some working dis/Abled enabled archaeologists. Debate of Fraser’s thesis (2008), concerning USA dis/Abled enabled archaeologists and one of my interview participant’s with osteoarthritis will follow.

What Price is Failure?

To celebrate our failures and to show that failure can indeed be the one stepping stone needed towards our future successes, this paper will be exploring firstly my own personal professional failure and then go onto the failures of success within our own contemporary cultural archaeological community. I have been told that I am too well known, too contentious and no-one in multiple archaeology communities feels they know enough about enabled archaeology to supervise any application for PhD. What I have learnt from this failure and how I am now using this as a stepping stone towards doing my own publishing route to a PhD could mean I may well achieve my aim. For it is by our very learning these failures that we can personally invent new approaches which can lead to us achieving our own archaeological purposed goals. The future can indeed look culturally bright for UK archaeology if we learn from our failings and change our past and present culture from one of limited vision to inclusion for all. For too long we have failed to culturally accept and welcome all to archaeology within our remit. Things we have left culturally unseen, invisible, ignored, and unspoken can become a celebration of success which could stop many people from turning away from us, or indeed aid us to learn from our past attitudinal failures and build up towards inclusion for all within the archaeology we love. This paper will speak of how we can use our own and archaeology’s failures to create a cultural acceptance which could well bring us into a successful era of all minorities in and outside of archaeology being able to aid our skills shortages and projects such as the HS2 project vacancies to be filled.

Theresa O’Mahony

Enabled Archaeology and the TDP

Breaking down barriers to inclusion

How can the positives of enabled archaeological inclusion be transferred to break down negative attitudinal barriers encountered by prospective dis/Abled enabled volunteers, students and future archaeologists within our discipline and profession? Arguments will be put forward that this can be done using a range of strategies and techniques, which could potentially change the actual living culture of contemporary archaeology – with enabled archaeologists, accreditation lists, fieldwork dis/Ability training, media communication and one-to one-personal debate strategies. In addition, liaising, partnering and working with national archaeological bodies and institutions could well bring attitudinal awareness and a change to negative attitudinal barriers. These methods will be argued to break down the negative and even prejudicial attitudinal barriers that a minority of archaeologists still actively hold towards dis/Abled enabled inclusion in any area of archaeology today.

Theresa O’Mahony BA (Hons) MA Public Archaeology UCL Alumnus is a dis/Ability consultant specialising in contemporary dis/Ability in archaeology. The Enabled Archaeology Foundation will be a non-profit organisation inclusive of all people with or without dis/Abilities in archaeology. Her research has reached over 3.3 million people in the UK and abroad.