Wednesday, 17 May 2017


    Most of us who study or work in archaeology are wary of "rocking the boat". We wait until we are established within the discipline before voicing any concerns but by that time we have already become "The Establishment" and it is then too late.

   The answer may lie in how the discipline is taught and one such pedagogic paper in particular caught my attention. Written by Karina Croucher she develops thoughts already developed in Ghisleni's "Binary Binds" paper published in Archaeological Dialogues. It makes interesting reading and I recommend it. However it fails to address the underlying issues of true student participation. Assessments comprise of little more than a rehash of the recommended reading, the style impersonal and conciliatory. Anything provocative often results in a poor mark irrespective of the originality and the argument. Croucher's paper is available from or Arch Dialogues.

   A letter in Nature last year(2016, 539, p140) noted the change in "scientific writing" (use this to search for it), justified by the increase in publications written by those for whom english is a second language. The rise of feminism, and a feminist archaeology, seems fashionable at the moment; it's proponents advocating a more personal archaeology recognisable in a new style of writing. Regrettably this has yet to be translated into practise; bibliometrics, the points system and peer review buffering such noble ideals.

   Refreshing, then, to find a thought provoking, well written and argumentaive paper by Olivier Grosselain (for whom english is a second language). Entitled 

      "To hell with ethnoarchaeology", Archaeological Dialogues, 2016, 23 (2),

it is well worth the read, deliberately provocative and well argued. What a pity that Dr. Grosselain had to wait to become a member of the establishment before getting published. What is the likelyhood of an undergrad getting a simple reply or letter in print?  

    I feel a letter growing inside me. A response to Croucher is in order methinks, but once written, sent and refused I can always share it with you here. It is about time undergraduates really participated and the Establishment stopped paying lip service to an archaic ideology.

 Image result for archaeology writing cartoon