A Very Busy May for Governmental Affairs

May was an eventful month for the Society for Historical Archeology’s Governmental Affairs Committee and SHA’s government affairs counsel, Cultural Heritage Partners. A number of proposals were introduced and discussed in both houses of Congress. While these changes are intended to make aspects of historic preservation easier and more efficient, they fall woefully short in the eyes of the archeological community and can endanger historic preservation.

  • Section 1303 of the “MAP-21 Reauthorization Act,” which is the reauthorization of the current transportation legislation, proposes to use the Section 106 process as a means to fulfill some of the current requirements of Section 4(f) of the transportation act.  The goal is to reduce what is perceived as duplication between Section 106 and Section 4(f).
  • The Military LAND Act (Section 2816 in NDAA, H.R. 4435) would amend the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) by allowing any federal agency that manages property to block or revoke the listing of a historic property on the National Register of Historic Places, as a National Historic Landmark or on the World Heritage List by invoking “reasons of national security.”
  • The FIRST Act (H.R. 4186) would create of a new level of review at the National Science Foundation to determine if research is worthy of federal funding and “in the national interest.” The House also amended the appropriations bill for NSF to include a provision shifting millions of dollars from social sciences to physical sciences.
  • NPS is considering a proposal to amend the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) to include “landscapes” as a property type and “landscape architecture” as an area of significance. SHA sent a letter to Stephanie Toothman stating its reasons for opposing the proposal, and will meet with her in June.

SHA has submitted several letters addressing the proposals, explaining why they damage historic preservation, or are ineffective or simply unnecessary. SHA does not stand alone in its opposition. The American Cultural Resources Association joined with SHA against the proposed changes to Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act. The Department of Defense provided testimony on the Military LAND Act, stating that it is unwanted and unnecessary; the Preservation Partners are also opposing Section 2816 in the NDAA (formerly the Military LAND Act).

SHA and Cultural Heritage Partners are working to avoid these potentially expensive and unnecessary changes. We want to keep Congress from fixing what isn’t broken.

Meet a Member: John Littlefield

Over the coming months, we’ll be bringing you entertaining interviews with a diverse array of your fellow SHA members.  Meet a member for the first time or learn something about a colleague that you never knew before.  This blog series also offers current members an opportunity to share their thoughts on why SHA membership is important (Camaraderie? Professional service? Exchange of ideas in conference rooms and beyond?  You tell us!). If you would like to be an interviewee, please email the Membership Committee Social Media Liaisons Eleanor Breen (ebreen@mountvernon.org) or Kim Pyszka (kpyszka@aum.edu).

An Interview with John Littlefield, PhD student at Texas A&M University (Maritime Archaeology), M.A. from Texas A&M, B.S. from College of Charleston

What is the first site you worked on? What is the last one (or current one)?

The first “site” I worked on was a not a site at all, but a terrestrial survey in central Turkey, if that counts. I followed that with work at a colonial site, Charles Towne Landing, in South Carolina. Completely different environments, but both equally interesting. The last “site” I worked on was also a survey, of the waters around ancient Troy and Çanakkale, Turkey- again, if that counts. The last specific site was a potential pre-Clovis excavation in a Florida river. I was amazed at the ability to be able to cut beautiful walls in the river bed down to about 13 m. We don’t get the type of substrate to allow fine trowel work in a sea or ocean environment.

Fieldwork or labwork?

This presents a very difficult choice. Since most of my current work in done on underwater sites, I live on, and work from, a boat for weeks or even months at a time. Fieldwork has taken me from the freshwater rivers of Florida to the Mediterranean Sea to excavate Bronze Age material, Hellenistic marble, etc. I obviously love what I get to do during fieldwork. However, I also really like artifact photography and analysis, pXRF analysis of metal artifacts, and the very detailed recording ancient ship remains in the lab also.

If you could have lunch with any archaeologist (past or present) who would it be?

Wow, that is an intriguing question. So many people come to mind, past and present. As a maritime archaeologist, George Bass is a bit of a sage for me. He obviously is of great influence to the field of nautical archaeology and I am very fortunate to get to visit with George on a very regular basis. In fact, I had the opportunity to work and even dive with him at the re-visit excavation of the Bronze Age shipwreck at Cape Gelidonya in 2010. I would add that I would love to have an afternoon with to pick Lewis Binford’s brain, to have a mint julep with Basil Gildersleeve, or chat with Paul Bahn about his Bluffers guide to Archaeology.

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

That presumes that I have grown up. As a kid, I wanted to be an Olympian, but as much as I tried, I always seemed to be the second faster distance runner. After high school I moved into a blue collar career, so it took me many years to find my calling as a maritime archaeologist. I left that blue collar job, went back to school, and took a position as a diver at the South Carolina Aquarium. When I stumbled into an anthropology class and discovered archaeology, it did not take long to develop the desire to marry my new found passion with diving to that of archaeology. So if and when I do actually grow up, I would like to continue on this path.

Why are you a member of SHA?

I think it is important to support the institutions in our field. It helps in network development and I like getting up to date archaeological data through the associated journals, websites, and conferences.

At what point in your career did you first join SHA?

I joined pretty early- I was still an undergraduate at College of Charleston when I first joined.

How many years have you been a member (approximately)?

I first joined in 2006 I believe.

Which benefit of belonging to SHA do you find the most beneficial?

Definitely the up-to-date information, particularly about ethics, methods, and practices in the field.

APTC: Job Fishing in the Digital Sea

So, like many of us, I’ve been on the job market in the past year. I finished my PhD at the College of William & Mary (Hark upon the Gale!) and am trying to have that take me somewhere. To facilitate such, I have cultivated a number of online tools to notify me about job openings around the country (sorry, this is a US-oriented post).

To push the SHA’s effort, I’ll start with “our” resources. The SHA maintains a job board (click here), which I check frequently. Jobs are automatically removed after 90 days, so anything on there is fairly current. As we’re historical archaeologists, these are the most relevant to our specialties. The SAA maintains one, as well (click here). Like the SHAs, it’s a fairly standard enumeration of open positions, skewing academic, but their postings stay up there for longer. Beyond the job boards, there are some other, more sophisticated things to try.

The AAA job board operates, in some ways, like the SHA and SAA counterparts, but with more features. As a job-seeker, you can construct a profile for others to review, which is nice, but I get the feeling it doesn’t get used much. More useful, however, is the ability to set up automated alerts based on certain search terms. Every time a job gets posted on the AAA board with “historical archaeology” in the description, I get an e-mail alert with a link to the posting. It’s a very helpful function, and the e-mails usually arrive in the morning, right around when I’m spoon-deep in my cereal, so it’s a nice surprise with breakfast.

Archaeologyfieldwork.com is another go-to resource. It’s particularly helpful in that it comes in so many different formats. You can go to the page and use it like a standard job board. They also have a Twitter feed and a Facebook page, both of which will pop up in your various queues. A hearty tip-of-the-hat to Jennifer Palmer for making this such a valuable resource. My favorite way to access this resource, however, is an RSS feed. I, like many, bemoaned the demise of Google Reader, as it was my go-to resource for news reading. I’ve replaced it with Feedly, and loaded the page’s RSS channel (click here) as a feed, which updates regularly. AFW carries more agency and shovel bum gigs than do the aforementioned job boards. Shovelbums also does postings on CRM jobs, but in an older interface.

Also on Twitter, keep an eye on Get Anthropology Jobs (@GetAnthropoJobs), which carries a lot of adjunct and instructor positions, the helpfully-named Archaeology Postdocs (@archpostdocs), and ArchaeoJobs (@ArchaeoJobs), which is run out of Dublin and features more European content. I don’t subscribe to them directly, but have all of these in a private archaeology jobs list, which I can call up in Twitter or maintain as a separate stream in HootSuite, which lets you view more than the one Twitter feed at a time. I use HootSuite because I maintain my own Twitter feed (@cgdrexler) as well as that of my office (@aas_sau), and HootSuite keeps me from having to log-out and log-in constantly.

Also, on Feedly, I subscribe to updates to the Academic Jobs Wiki, archaeology jobs section (click here). As the name implies, it’s focused on academic jobs, but serves two purposes. First, like the job boards, it announces positions, though rarely something that doesn’t appear on the other boards. Well, belay that. It does carry more international postings than the US-oriented job boards already mentioned. What is, perhaps, more helpful is that, as it’s a wiki, people can anonymously post information on it about the progress of the search. Did the University of South Mumblesticks ask for phone interviews? They did? OK, I didn’t get a request, so that’s probably off the table for me. It lets the job-seeker start to mentally move on, and can provide some closure in an age when a lot of places don’t actually send out rejection letters.

On that last front, a friend of mine, Linda Ziegenbein, put together an Academic Job Rejection Letter Generator to provide full closure for those who are still waiting to hear from a lost cause. Lamentably, after a story appeared about it, the Generator received 10,000 hits in three days… wow.

OK, we have to wind up on a more positive note…

I know, I’ll highlight that the Arkansas Archeological Survey currently has three positions open. Two are for station assistants (one in Monticello, one in Arkadelphia), and one for a station archaeologist (in Magnolia). Check them out!

What resources and tools do you use as part of your job hunt? Leave us a comment below with your favorite resources, tips, and tricks!