The enchantment of the archaeological record

A case for flipping archaeological practice around from a crisis-led model to an enchantment-led model…

I have the great fortune of presenting tomorrow at the European Association of Archaeologists’ annual conference, hosted this year in sunny Barcelona. I’m in an incredible session called Human, Posthuman, Transhuman Digital Archaeologies, featuring some of my heroes and professional inspirations (Friday 7 Sept, 14:00 – 18:30, Room: UB220, Hashtag:#S363). You can read many of their full papers online on Colleen’s website.

As it’s the culmination of many years of my thinking, I’m not able to circulate my 8000-word paper (it will hopefully be published in full very shortly). However I have tried to distil the argument into a few slides, copied below. In distilling the argument down so much, I’ve had to make a lot of generalising statements (a few of the most blatant of which are highlighted via *an asterisk). I do not claim there are no exceptions, and I am certainly not the first to put forward aspects of this argument. What I am hoping to do, however, is draw everything together into a workable model of practice that is not grounded in the discipline’s normative crisis mode of operation. This is my first attempt at articulating an enchantment model for archaeology.

While there are literally hundreds of people who have worked with me to refine these ideas, I need to explicitly acknowledge Katrina Gargett, Sierra McKinney, Sophia Mirashrafi and Angeliki Tzouganatou, whose research endeavours are allowing us to test some of this model in practice. I am indebted to you all.

I hope to see everyone in Barcelona or otherwise discuss these issues in other venues!

Sara Perry @archaeologistsp #1

Sara Perry @archaeologistsp #2

Sara Perry @archaeologistsp #3

Sara Perry @archaeologistsp #4

Sara Perry @archaeologistsp #5

Sara Perry @archaeologistsp #6

Sara Perry @archaeologistsp #7

Sara Perry @archaeologistsp #8

4 thoughts on “The enchantment of the archaeological record

  1. This is really optimistic, I love it. I wonder about the agency aspect – is it the archaeology that enchants or the archaeologist? Your examples are generally heritage/museum flavoured: I’ve always found the excavation site to be a powerful, emotive, engaging public place/space, and lots of my work over many years has been about trying to understand these encounters – this links back to your ‘trowel’s edge’ piece I suppose. This is a really nice model for thinking and working with – thank you!

  2. Yes – good point, and because there wasn’t much space in my talk (5mins long only!) to delve into specifics, there’s a lot to be elaborated. I completely agree with what you say, and it’s – as you write – in the encounters between everything that I think the most rich outcomes are realised. Pat Hadley recently made me think about how we often rely on certain types of folks to ‘add’ enchantment to the archaeology, so this point has been on my mind. I hope I see you again in person soon so we can speak more about it all!

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