Last week’s American Anthropological Association conference perhaps once more confirmed that archaeology is a thoroughly public scholarship as the halls resounded with scholars theorizing activism and leading calls for revolution: increasingly more of us celebrate collaborative work with descendant communities, indigenous peoples, and social collectives beyond the walls of the academy. The embrace of civic engagement and public scholarship reaches well beyond anthropological archaeology circles, with a host of scholars and universities committed to reaching beyond narrowly defined “pure” scholarship.
There are many reasons to celebrate public scholarship, but academic culture profoundly influences what passes as scholarship at conferences, in employment, in peer review, and for promotion and tenure. The Society for American Archaeology conference in April 2014 will include a Blogging in Archaeology session that almost certainly will illuminate the political implications of public archaeology scholarship in the blogosphere and beyond. In the months leading up to the conference Doug’s Archaeology is hosting a “blogging carnival” that will include archaeology bloggers addressing the same questions each month (posts can be followed on Twitter at #BlogArch).
This month’s question is why do archaeologists blog? The host of bloggers that have responded to Doug’s question so far have provided thoughtful answers that I would echo on many counts, but the question also raises a bigger set of issues. First, why is public archaeological scholarship not always accommodated by conventional scholarly discourse? The easy answer in university settings revolves around academics’ traditionally cherished peer-reviewed scholarship, which blogs and digital public scholarship aspire to expand. Second, what defines the disciplinary boundaries of “archaeology” at all? Bloggers violate many of the conventional definitions of archaeology as the objective material analysis of antiquity, part of a broad expansion of archaeology in contemporary scholarship. Finally, how do universities in particular and archaeological employers in general (e.g., cultural resource management, cultural heritage industry) view blogs and public scholarship? Read the rest of this entry