Panel Session Topic: “Training Historical Archaeologists in the 21st Century: Does Theory Matter Anymore?”

Terry Majewski and I are facilitating what will undoubtedly be a thought-provoking, highly interactive, and potentially controversial panel discussion on the training of historical archaeologists. The session, entitled “Training Historical Archaeologists in the 21st Century: Does Theory Matter Anymore?” will be held on Thursday, January 9, from 1:30 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. (Room 301A).  Panel members will include Mary Beaudry, Lu Ann De Cunzo, John Doershuk, Adrian Praetzellis, Timothy Scarlett, Teresa Singleton, and Mark Warner.  This session will include lots of time for questions and discussions among the panel members and session audience, so we hope many of you will be able to attend the session.

The panel discussion begins with the premise that historical archaeology still falls within two overarching theoretical camps:  (1) postmodern/post-processual archaeology and (2) processual archaeology. The former includes multiple approaches such as critical theory, Marxist theory, feminist or gendered archaeology, post-colonial archaeology, practice theory, etc. Processual archaeology is a continuation of the New Archaeology of the 1970s, which applies scientific methods to archaeological research.  Our panel of prominent historical archaeologists will evaluate the role and impact of these differing theoretical orientations in preparing students for careers in both academia and the world of cultural resource management (CRM)/heritage management. Our panel members, representing both academia and applied archaeology, including CRM, will be asked to consider whether or not these two differing theoretical orientations have equal applicability toward advancing a student’s career in academia vs. a career in CRM; and toward contributing to the questions that count in historical archaeology.

The panel will be asked to address the following questions:

Question 1: The majority of historical archaeology in the United States and Canada is conducted to fulfill the requirements of environmental and historic preservation laws. How can training in a postmodern approach to historical archaeology benefit a student seeking a career in CRM, when the work they will be doing:

  • will be conducted in a business or government agency context,
  • will involve the production of technical reports to be reviewed by government agencies,
  • will be used to demonstrate legal compliance with historic preservation and environmental laws, and
  • might also involve the implementation of public outreach and engagement programs, and consultation with descendent communities and other public stakeholders in the archaeological effort?

Question 2: The articles published in Historical Archaeology and recent volumes on the discipline of historical archaeology seem to suggest that postmodernism is the predominant theoretical orientation for historical archaeological endeavors in academic settings. This also seems to be the case in terms of the sessions and papers presented at SHA’s annual meetings over the last several years.  Do you believe that this is the case, and if so, what role, if any, does a processual approach to historical archaeology have in the training of university students for a career in academia?

Question 3: Do we have an ethical obligation to objectively present the realities of the job market to students pursuing a career in historical archaeology?  If we do, what are the most effective methods and approaches to present these realities to students?

Question 4: How can we ensure as a discipline that practitioners in all career tracks have the opportunity, grounding, and commitment to make a difference and contribute to answering the questions that count in historical archaeology?

Hope to see you at the session and we look forward to some lively discussions!

GMAC Diversity Field School Competition

This year the Gender and Minority Affairs Committee (GMAC) is hosting its first annual Diversity Field School Competition. In an effort to continue making the field of historical archaeology more inclusive of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, abilities, and socio-economic background, the competition will recognize those who have shown a commitment to increasing diversity in the field and encourage further discussion of the topic. Applicants are required to submit a short essay on diversity, a summary of their field school, and some form of multimedia (photo, pamphlet, video clip, etc.) that highlights diversity in their field school. All awardees will be acknowledged at the 47th Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology and recognized on the SHA website, while the first place winner will receive special commendation. GMAC encourages submissions from all SHA members and conference attendees. The Application Form is available online and completed applications—as well as additional questions—may be directed to GMACdiversityfieldschool@gmail.com. For more information, please refer to the Submission guidelines.

Toward A More Diverse SHA

The idea for the Diversity Field School Competition developed out of a series of larger discussions within the SHA about viable ways to increase diversity within the organization. At the 2011 SHA conference, GMAC members determined that increasing diversity was an important step toward social justice and helping the SHA reflect the diverse communities historical archaeologists serve. These calls for greater diversity were reinforced by subsequent GMAC panels and initiatives such as the GMAC Student Travel Award and diversity training for SHA board members. Earlier this year current SHA president, Paul Mullins, announced his commitment to “make diversity an increasingly articulate part of the SHA mission and our collective scholarly practice.” Additionally archaeologists abroad are discussing the issue of diversity, particularly after the recent release of the Archaeology Labour Market Intelligence: Profiling the Profession 2012-2013 report which identified 99% of archaeologists working in the UK as white. As a result we hope this competition helps to not only recognize those who have shown a commitment to diversity, but also open dialogue about ways to increase the presence of archaeologists from the many underrepresented groups.

We encourage you to also visit the SHA Events website for more information about other SHA competitions, events, and workshops. Hope to see you all in Quebec!

Interested in becoming a part of the conversation? Let us know how archaeologists can work together to increase diversity in the field, and please consider joining or volunteering for the GMAC.

Register for the SHA’s First Student Ethics Bowl

This year the SHA annual meeting has new exciting opportunities for students. For the first time, The SHA and its Student Subcommittee, aided by the Ethics Committee, are sponsoring their own Ethics Bowl. We warmly encourage all undergraduate and graduate students to participate in fun rounds of friendly competition. Students are welcome to form their own teams, composed of three or four students. Individual students are also encouraged to register and we will coordinate them into teams.

Teams will be given this year’s cases in advance so they can prepare their position. The issues posed range from underwater to terrestrial contexts and are based on current challenges students will face if they have not already. We recommend resources for preparing responses to the case and students will have access to “coaches” if they need some input.

The Bowl game mirrors real life – one always has to expect the unexpected. During play, game-changing cards will be introduced. These impact all players. The card contains new information about the case and provides complications all players will need to negotiate. So, quick thinking will be a plus! Regardless, the spontaneous nature of these curve balls will make for some additional fun.

Judges have been selected by the SHA Ethics Committee and represent senior member from terrestrial and underwater backgrounds. Winners will be selected according to the intelligibility, depth, focus and judgment of their analysis of the cases, the game changing cards and answer to the judges’ questions.

Join us for the founding of a new SHA tradition for SHA students. The forum is a fun way to participate in the annual conference, meet new people, prepare for real-world archaeology and participate in a little friendly competition. You may even expand your understanding of issues vital to your future success in the field.

The registration deadline has been extended to December 1st.

For additional information and to receive the registration form for this event, please email shaethicsbowl2014@gmail.com.

We look forward hearing you debate!

Cette année, le colloque annuel de la SHA propose aux étudiants de nouvelles opportunités très intéressantes. En effet, un Ethics Bowl, ou concours éthique, y fait son apparition pour la première fois sous l’égide du « Student Subcommitee » et du « Ethics Commitee » de la SHA. Nous invitons vivement tous les étudiants de premier cycle et des cycles supérieurs à participer à cette compétition amicale. Les étudiants peuvent former leur propre équipe, constituée de trois ou quatre étudiants. Les étudiants peuvent également s’inscrire à titre individuel et ils seront ensuite placés en équipes.

Les équipes recevront les mises en situation préalablement à la tenue de l’événement afin de préparer leur argumentaire. Les cas touchent des situations réalistes relevant autant de l’archéologie subaquatique que de l’archéologie terrestre. L’accès à des ressources et à des mentors sera offert aux équipes si elles en éprouvent le besoin.

Cette activité est qu’elle est à l’image de la réalité puisqu’elle ne permet pas de prévoir l’imprévisible. En effet, durant les échanges, des « game changing cards » seront introduites dans les discussions. Ces cartes contiennent de nouvelles informations à propos de la mise en situation de manière à ce que les participants reconsidèrent leur argumentaire. Conséquemment, les participants devront demeurer vifs d’esprit, ajoutant ainsi plus de défi!

Les juges ont été sélectionnés par le SHA Ethics Committee et sont des archéologues reconnus issus tant des milieux terrestres que subaquatiques. Les équipes seront notées en fonction de la clarté, de la profondeur, de la justesse et du bon jugement exprimé dans leur argumentaire. Par ailleurs, elle seront évaluées sur leur habileté à s’adapter aux nouveaux éléments apportés par les « game changing cards » et à répondre aux questions des juges.

Joignez-vous à nous pour ce qui se veut être une nouvelle tradition étudiante dans les colloques de la SHA! Ce forum est une opportunité amusante de participer au colloque annuel et de rencontrer des collègues issus de différents milieux tout en participant à une compétition amicale. Vous pourriez même améliorer votre compréhension de différents enjeux qui pourraient éventuellement avoir des échos dans votre carrière!

La date limite d’inscription est le 1 décembre.

Pour obtenir plus d’information ou pour demander le formulaire d’inscription, veuillez vous adresser au shaethicsbowl2014@gmail.com.

Au plaisir de vous voir prendre part au débat!