SHA 2013: Social Media at the SHA Conference

Over the past few years, SHA has built an online presence through the use of social media, and it began within the conference committee. This year, with the addition of the blog, and the society’s developing use of Twitter and Facebook, we want to encourage you all to incorporate social media into your conference experience in Leicester. You can find further information about the use of social media at conferences in general here and here.

Before the Conference

Using social media before the conference provides a number of opportunities to make your experience in Leicester more enjoyable. Here’s some suggestions:

  1. Catch Up with What’s Happening: We have a Facebook Page, Conference Event Page, a Twitter Account, and official Twitter Hashtag. We’ve also been posting blogs about Leicester and the conference since January. Follow and Like Us, and read up on what to expect at the conference!
  2. Start Communicating: Twitter is a great way to meet other archaeologists. See who is tweeting with the #SHA2013 tag, and start conversations with them!
  3. Advertise your session by blogging and posting: Do you have a blog? Use it to share your session, the reasons why it is important, where and what time it’s being held. Post it on our Facebook wall and send a tweet with #SHA2013 and @SHA_org mentioned, and we’ll share it with our members!
  4. Share Your Trip: Let us know what’s happening on your trip to Leicester. Did you find a good travel deal? Need someone to share a ride with from the airport? Delayed? Lost? Send a tweet with the #SHA2013 tag and see if someone can lend a hand.

At the Conference

Once you arrive in Leicester, use @SHA_org and our Facebook page to communicate with the conference committee; we’ll be using it to communicate with you. Here are some things we’ll be using social media for:

What we’ll be doing

  1. Announcing special events: We’ll send out reminders about events including the awards banquet, student reception and so on, so you don’t miss anything! We’ll also live-tweet and post from the Business Meeting, so those of you leaving early on Saturday can follow along from the train.
  2. Special Announcements: If something is relocated, delayed, or cancelled, we will announce this via social media.
  3. Answering Questions: Send your questions to @SHA_org or the Facebook page
  4. RTing and RePosting: We’ll repost on Facebook and ReTweet on Twitter the things you share on the #SHA2013 hashtag. If you’ve taken a great picture, made an interesting comment in a session, or provided some good information, we want to make sure our followers see it!

What you can do

  1. Wear a Twitter Sticker: When you collect your conference bag, ask a volunteer for a Twitter Sticker. Then write your Twitter name on it, and stick it to your name badge or wear it separately. This way, other Twitter users will know you Tweet.
  2. Post YOUR Special Announcements: Has something happened in your session that is delaying things? Have you found a great restaurant or coffee shop you want to share? Spotted your book in the book room? Post these items and we’ll repost them so others can see them.
  3. Ask Questions: Use Twitter and Facebook to ask questions about the conference. Can’t find a room? Can’t remember what time the Awards Banquet is? Send a tweet to @SHA_org or post on the Facebook wall and we’ll get back to you.
  4. Take Pictures: we’d love to see and share your pictures from the conference, particularly from the special events.
  5. Come to our TweetUp! There will be a special gathering at a local watering hole that is open to all, but particularly for those who use social media! This is a great chance to meet those you’ve come to know on Twitter or Facebook, but never met face-to-face. Stay tuned for more details! UPDATE: The TweetUp will be Thursday at 9 pm, after the Pub Quiz at the Marquis. See the Facebook Event here for more info.

In a Session

Twitter can be particularly useful when you’re in a session. It provides a backchannel of commentary and discussion, so people who couldn’t attend the session or conference can still follow along. It also gives presenters and chairs a chance to get some feedback on their presentation, and to communicate with the audience – leading to interactions and relationships that might not have occurred otherwise. Here are some tips to maximize the effectiveness, and civility, of Twitter. You can find more hints and tips here.

For Session organizers

  1. Use a Hashtag: It’s OK with us if you give your session its own hashtag; this way, it is clear what tweets belong to what section. We STRONGLY advise that you also use the #SHA2013 hashtag, so that people following it will see your session as well. Otherwise, it may not be noticed. So, pick something short to save characters!
  2. Make it Known: Make sure all your presenters know about the hashtag, and that you’d like to use social media during the session. Make sure that the audience knows as well; tell them as you introduce the session. Also, encourage your presenters to include their own Twitter name and the session hashtag on their introduction slide, so that people can use it during their presentation.

For Presenters

  1. Be Loud: include your Twitter name on your presentation slides, and say something in your introduction about how you’d like to hear feedback on Twitter. If you DON’T want anyone to broadcast your session, make the request at the beginning of your presentation.
  2. Respond: Be sure to respond to the comments that you get, and build relationships!
  3. Pay it Forward: Be an active tweeter during the session for your fellow presenters.

For the audience

  1. Be Respectful: Don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t say to a presenter’s face; Twitter is, in general, a friendly place. Constructive criticism is certainly welcome, but remember you only have 140 characters. It’s probably best to send the presenter a private message saying you’d love to chat about their presentation rather than publicly dig into them. If a presenter requests silence on social media for their presentation, respect it and give your thumbs a rest.
  2. Introduce your Speaker: It’s courteous to send a tweet out introducing the presenter and their paper topic before starting to tweet their presentation: this gives those following some context.
  3. Cite: Use the presenter’s Twitter name, surname, or initials in all the following tweets so that their ideas are connected to them. Use quotes if you’re directly quoting someone from their presentation, and be sure to include their name. Remember: these presentations are still the presenter’s intellectual property, so treat it respectfully!

After the Conference

Just because a conference is over, it doesn’t mean the work is done! The same goes for social media; here’s how you can round out your conference experience:

  1. Write a Summary: Use a blog or Storify to give other archaeologists a glimpse into your experience, session or paper, and see what they missed. This also allows us to gather feedback about the conference so we can make it better next year! Be sure to post it on Twitter, use the #SHA2013 tag, and post on our Facebook page so others can see it!
  2. Post your Paper: Using a blog or academia.edu to post your paper is a great way to make it available to everyone. Or you could make a video; simply record yourself talking over your slides and upload it to YouTube or Vimeo (read more about this here). Then, share it with us!
  3. Build your Networks: Build longer lasting relationships by looking up the people you’ve met at the conference on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (oh, we have a LinkedIn Group, too, just for SHA members). If you find them, send them a message saying how nice it was to see them!

Defining a Global Historical Archaeology

Every historical archaeologist has at some point defined the discipline to the visitors at an archaeological site, a roomful of students, or a colleague or community member.  Most of us have a pretty clear notion of what distinguishes historical archaeology, and while it may diverge from what our teachers once told us, the conventional definitions in reference sources, or even the SHA’s own definition, we do seem to return to some consistent elements:  for instance, material things always seem to lie at the heart of what we do; most of us see ourselves as multidisciplinary scholars; we value rigor and replicability (even if we entertain sophisticated theory or are sometimes wary of being labeled a “science”); and we focus on peoples living in the last half-millennium or thereabouts.

Nevertheless, it is still completely reasonable that we have some distinctive visions of precisely what constitutes historical archaeology (or should define it) (compare the historical archaeology course syllabi definitions at the SHA Syllabi Clearinghouse).  The discussion over what defines historical archaeology has roots reaching over more than a half-century, and the dynamism of the discussion over our field is a good indication of historical archaeology’s dynamism and growth.  As the field now stretches its chronological boundaries into the contemporary world, encompasses an increasingly broad range of intellectual traditions, and pushes its geographic horizons to every reach of the planet, that discussion may be as lively as it was in the 1960s.  The SHA does not need to impose a definition of the discipline onto everybody digging something we might call historical archaeology, and in fact the discussion of the rich range of historical archaeologies is more important than forging a universal definition of the discipline that encompasses every time and place.  Instead, we need to continue to promote a rich discussion that reaches across global divisions, lines of historical difference and contemporary inequality, and moments in time.

The differences in conventional definitions of historical archaeology are perhaps most apparent outside the confines of North America.  As we prepare for our annual conference in Leicester in January, 2013 and then Quebec a year later, it is increasingly evident that what North Americans call historical archaeology goes by a variety of labels in Europe, Africa, South America, or the Pacific World: post-medieval, modern, and contemporary archaeologies all describe some scholarship akin to American historical archaeology.  Historical archaeology emerged at roughly the same moments in North America, the UK (with the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology’s formation in 1966), and Australia (the Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology was founded in 1970).  All of these scholarly traditions push the conventional North American framing of historical archaeology in productive and exciting ways.

The most influential definitions of North American historical archaeology tend to revolve around the cultural transformations associated with Anglo and European colonization.  However, that definition looks out at the globe from the New World and has often somewhat ironically not examined the very European and African societies sending peoples to the New World.  For our European colleagues doing archaeologies of the last 500 years, the transformation into a post-medieval world reaches well into the medieval period and reveals dramatic variation from the Iberian Peninsula into central and northern Europe.  Pictures of Africa and Asia likewise have a historical depth that is not easily accommodated to a narrowly defined focus on European colonization alone.

Many historical archaeologists have focused on the ways in which emergent capitalism and colonization transformed the planet and provide an intellectual framework for historical archaeology.  Yet that sprawling profit economy was never utterly homogenous and integrated despite its global scale.  Capitalist penetration into New World colonies, Africa, and the breadth of Europe itself was inevitably variable across time and space, and archaeologists have particularly rich data to dissect the contextually distinctive spread of capitalism and local experiences of capitalist transformations.

The rapid growth of contemporary archaeology encompasses a breadth of research subjects that likewise stretches our conventional notion of historical archaeology.  William Rathje’s garbology studies laid much of the foundation for archaeologies of the recent past and contemporary world, and Americans have conducted a variety of modern material culture studies since the 1970’s taking aim on everything from electric cars to pathways of migration to wartime detention centers.  Archaeologies of the present-day world have been exceptionally active in the UK and Europe, where contemporary archaeologists have conducted creative, thoughtful, and challenging research on everything from wartime landscapes and prison camps (in Finnish, but video images) to Cold War materiality to punk graffiti.  For many of us this scholarship is intimately linked to historical archaeologies that have focused on more distant pasts and should have a clear role in a global historical archaeology that reaches firmly into the present.

The transformation to an increasingly global historical archaeology may be bearing the fruit envisioned by the very first historical archaeologists, whose January, 1966 gathering at Southern Methodist University was dubbed the International Conference on Historic Archaeology” (my italics).  In 1968, SHA President Ed Jelks (1968:3) intoned that “Historical archaeology has much to gain in the long run from encouraging a spirit of concerted, interdisciplinary, international cooperation.”  Many of our colleagues in the nearly 50 years since the Texas conference have been committed to a historical archaeology that always thinks of global systemic relationships beyond our local sites, but we are especially fortunate to live in a moment in which there is a rich international scholarship of the last half millennium that is increasingly accessible thanks to digitization.

Indeed, that global historical archaeology may well be SHA’s next horizon for growth in terms of both the society’s literal membership numbers and the discipline’s more significant expansion as a scholarly voice throughout the world.  Historical and post-medieval archaeologists are researching nearly every corner of the world and bring rich scholarly traditions distinct from North American anthropology.  That global historical archaeology is profoundly shaped by the concrete connections made possible through online scholarship and communication across a wired planet, and it bears significant debts to the SHA’s own commitment to conduct international conferences.

The Society for Historical Archaeology is only one steward for this rich international scholarship, and that scholarship is inevitably richer for including a broad range of global archaeological methods, scholars, and approaches.  International historical archaeology provides increasingly rich possibilities for the scholarly growth of historical archaeology that is increasingly globalized, compelling, and intellectually rigorous.

Jelks, Edward B.

1968 President’s Page: Observations on the Scope of Historical Archaeology.  Historical Archaeology 2:1-3.

Archaeologists Anonymous at SHA 2013

‘What are your hopes and fears for the future of archaeology?’

The Archaeologists Anonymous team are coming to the SHA conference and will be holding a panel session on the morning of Friday 11th January. In the run-up to the conference we’d like to invite all SHA delegates to send us your hopes and fears on a postcard and make the panel session a success!

How to get involved

The process is a simple one. You need to find a postcard, adapt its front cover somehow, and write your message (anonymously) on the back, and then post it to the address on the Arch Anon blog

Your postcard will join the other postcards we’ve received and will be prominently displayed on the blog - these postcards will form the basis for discussion points during the SHA panel. Your postcard could therefore lead vibrant debate regarding the future of archaeology during the 21st century at SHA: an important, international conference.

Why postcards?

We want to slow down the immediacy of digital communication and through regressive creativity provide an alternative to the fast-paced and hyper-identified world of Twitter, Facebook and email. We want to provide an opportunity for you to make something and use hand-writing rather than create through the technology of a laptop. Joining in will take a little time. You’ll need to find the ‘right’ postcard, think of your message and post it to us but we hope you’ll agree that the method is worth it. The postcards we’ve received are individual, striking and thought-provoking.

Postcards in archaeology

We also recognise the growing interest in postcards within the archaeological community. Sian Jones’ recent paper at CHAT in York considered the ways in which postcards from Whitworth Park in Manchester operated ‘as material objects’ whether ‘mass-produced, commoditized, personalised, exchanged and consumed’.

Why anonymity?

We are asking for contributors to send postcards anonymously as we want the message on the postcard to be more important than who is saying it. We are hoping that anonymity will allow the voices of undergraduates to be undifferentiated from the voices of professors. We are interested in all voices: whoever you are we would like you to send us your hopes and fears postcard.

The panel at SHA

The majority of places on the SHA panel will be filled on the day by members of the audience. It could be you! Joining the panel are Natasha Mehler (University of Vienna); Sara Perry (University of York); Sefryn Penrose (Atkins Heritage/University of Oxford); Sarah May (Independent); Emma Dwyer (University of Leicester); Katrina Foxton (University of York) and James Dixon (Archaeologists Anonymous).

The panel will draw on the postcards we’ve received to discuss the future direction of the discipline, the Arch Anon project, and the interconnections between anonymity and academia.

We are pleased that Katrina Foxton will be joining the SHA panel. Katrina’s recent work has focused on a specific collection of Victorian photographic postcards produced by Francis Frith (1822-1898), who took up the task of photographing every landscape and landmark in England during the 1860s. Looking at his work both in physical form and on the internet, Katrina’s work on postcards has considered how both the discursive aspects of the image content (including the achievement of a standardised way of obtaining that ‘perfect shot’, which is dependent on the material form and commercial success of the postcard) can lead to an understanding of postcard ‘culture’ and heritage today. Moreover, the prolific use of postcards in their hey-day has been likened to an early form of twitter (Staff 1979, Woody 1998, Procheska and Mendelson 2010).

Therefore, she is interested in the more recent mobilisation of these multi-dimensional photo-objects (Edwards and Harts 2004, Gillen and Hall 2011) within this particular archaeological debate, as it points to a further evolution in the postcard’s cultural life and its status as a epistolary medium.

We’re looking forward to hearing what Katrina has to say about Archaeologists Anonymous!

Can I bring a postcard along on the day?

We’d love you to be involved but we really want to have a stamp on the postcard so we can tell which countries the postcards have come from. And we really don’t want to know who’s made them. So please do post yours in time for SHA.

Any questions?  

Send us an email  - archaeologistsanonymous@gmail.com

See you in Leicester!

Hilary Orange, James Dixon, Stacey Hickling and Paul Graves-Brown (The Arch Anon team)