Job! Researcher for Transforming Data Reuse in Archaeology Project

Come join me and the team at MOLA as a Research Associate on our new European project TETRARCHs….

I’m over the moon to have received Arts & Humanities Research Council funding via the European CHANSE scheme for the 3-year project Transforming Data Reuse in Archaeology (TETRARCHs). Starting in October 2022, TETRARCHs is an international collaboration between myself and colleagues at MOLA, and some of my favourite scholars in the world at the University of York (Dr Holly Wright, Dr Colleen Morgan, Dr James Taylor), the Research Centre for the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (Dr Dr Edisa Lozić, Dr Benjamin Štular), Lund University (Dr Nico Dell’Unto), the University of Antwerp (Dr Hélène Verreyke, Dr Piraye Hacigüzeller), Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities (Dr Christophe Verbruggen), and Vilnius University (Dr Rimvydas Laužikas).

We seek to examine how archaeological methodologies in the field, the lab and the archive can be changed to support storytelling with archaeological data. And we aim to fundamentally modify archaeology’s standard processes to enable more and better re-use of data, priming these data from the earliest possible moment to tell stories and share findings in ways that are democratic, engaging and just.

TETRARCHs doesn’t officially start until next week – so there’s much to come (including a dedicated website) – but in the first instance I’m looking for a Research Associate to join us. Do you know anyone with a background in human-centred design or expertise in ethnography and audience evaluation? If so, please get in touch!

The post runs for 2.5 years at £35,433 per annum. It is based out of our London office, but flexible working options are available. We would welcome applications from people outside of the UK using the Global Talent Visa method of entry.

Please view the full job description here and apply here, and email me with questions. I have copied the advertisement for the role below.

Do you have a passion for digital heritage, digital humanities, or the critical use of cultural data to benefit different audiences? Keen on the potentials of storytelling to transform how we understand the world around us? Interested to experiment with how we can embed creativity directly into data records, associated metadata, and controlled vocabularies?

We are seeking an enthusiastic and talented candidate, ideally educated to PhD level, to join the CHANSE-funded Transforming Data Reuse in Archaeology (TETRARCHs) Project, led by Dr Sara Perry, Director of Research & Engagement at MOLA.

The successful post holder will have a track record of developing and applying human-centred design methodologies in different contexts with multiple audiences, as well as supporting others in their use and evaluation. You will have demonstrable experience of gathering quantitative and qualitative data, as well as experience in analysing qualitative data and conveying it in forms that are meaningful to different constituencies. 

Whilst supporting the Project Leader in implementing and monitoring key project work packages related to User-Centred Development and Evaluation, Storytelling and Creative Reuse, and Communications, you will:

  • Collaboratively develop and implement a human-centred design and evaluation methodology to enable TETRARCHs’ partners and collaborators to prime archaeological data for storytelling, and evaluate the efficacy of the approach with key audiences over the life of the project
  • Assist with compiling and monitoring the values and ethical frameworks under which the project will operate
  • Develop or support others in the development of knowledge exchange, communications, promotions, and educational material for the project, with a focus on reaching the project’s key audiences (creative practitioners, memory institutions and their constituencies)
  • Liaise with international partners and internal MOLA colleagues on the delivery of their project activities, as well as supporting the project’s Critical Friends’ User Group and Ethical Advisory Board

The successful candidate will have proven experience of critically applying research techniques and methodologies related to user-centred design, ethnography, and/or audience profiling and evaluation. You will have skills in working with people with multiple needs and people who may be facing a range of barriers to participation in heritage.

You will be skilled in communicating with – and listening to – people from a range of backgrounds in sensitive and supportive ways, and in preparing associated media to convey information in appropriate formats to targeted audiences. Competency with collaborative tools such as Miro, Google Jamboards or Padlet is required, as is self-motivation and a desire to go beyond the state of the art. A passion for matters of equality, diversity and inclusion is also a must.

This job will offer the opportunity to work both with MOLA’s own archaeological experts, and with partners and interested researchers around the world – networking, publishing, and presenting at conferences, as well as developing testimonials and content for wider audiences.

It’s Published! The Enchantment of the Archaeological Record

Inspiring action through archaeology’s emotive powers

Screen Shot 2019-07-25 at 17.50.23After presenting an overview last year, I’m really excited to say that my article on “The Enchantment of the Archaeological Record” has been published in European Journal of Archaeology (EJA)The EJA has an interesting feature that allows you to access the final published version online in read-only format (not available for download). I’ve also put the accepted version of the manuscript on the usual forums, including ResearchGate, and if you want a Word version to use with document readers, please email me.

Why Enchantment?

The gist of my argument is that I believe archaeology can change the world for the better through its inherent and highly distinctive capacity to generate wonder and enchantment among human beings.

As I summarise, there is a vast amount of evidence that robustly demonstrates these transformative potentials and their specific individual, local and broader impacts. There is also ample evidence on how exactly we might create situations that prime people for enchanting experiences.

Yet for the most part we aren’t applying this knowledge – or aren’t applying it well and critically. Where it is done, it’s almost always in relation to non-specialist public engagement. This misses the point that engagement activities grow out of primary data collection and interpretation, so if these primary practices are disenchanted, disenchanting, or otherwise devoid of affect, secondary efforts to engage people are far less likely to succeed to their full potential (if at all).

How do we ‘do’ enchantment?

I believe we can deliberately weave affective practices into all aspects of our archaeological methodologies and project designs, therein offering us a more contextual and dynamic model for doing, recording, interpreting, publicising and archiving archaeology.

This is not necessarily an easy or straightforward task, but I think we’ve proven it can work in terms of:

We are now investigating how we can revise typical recording tools (e.g., context sheets, photo logs), and archiving practices/infrastructure (e.g., metadata and descriptions, thesauri, ontologies) to fuel and support these enchantment efforts. Various initiatives are planned in the upcoming year or so – please stay tuned, and if you are willing to be involved, please do let me know.


I would like to send a massive THANK YOU to the editors of this particular issue of the EJA: Marta Díaz-Guardamino, Colleen Morgan, and Cate Frieman. I have never had a more positive, constructively thought-provoking review experience. The approach that these editors took in terms of whoever they recruited for my anonymous peer reviews, led me to feel some renewed hope for a process that I otherwise find mostly broken and disenchanting. My anonymous reviewers enabled me to think differently (rather than discouraging me from thinking), and this has helped to provide further inspiration. For instance, we’re involved in a lot of exciting things right now for EMOTIVE, including a VR experience, a dialogical experience with 3d replica artefacts, a group-based audio experience, and a study of culturally-specific responses to affect. More soon – and follow some of these adventures on Twitter or Instagram.


As a closing note, there are some wonderful papers in this issue of EJA, and I feel that Katherine Cook’s piece, “EmboDIYing Disruption: Queer, Feminist and Inclusive Digital Archaeologies”, gets at the crux of one of the issues that has severely affected our efforts at enchantment; namely, risk. Setting in place the measures to care for people – to ensure that any burden of risk is distributed – and to ensure institutions themselves invest in genuine structural change to support affective and inclusive practices (rather than obliging individuals or small-scale, time-limited projects to assume total responsibility for experimenting with these practices) is crucial. Cook offers some ideas on what is at stake and how we might negotiate risk, which really resonated with me.

Anyway, I appreciate your constructive criticism on my article if you’d be willing to share it.

The full reference is: Perry, Sara (2019) The Enchantment of the Archaeological Record. European Journal of Archaeology 22(3), 354-371.

Thank you!