Designing affect into archaeology

Join me on Tuesday 23 February 2021 at 16:00 GMT for an online talk hosted by Bournemouth University.

Join me for this open public seminar on Zoom at 4pm GMT on Tuesday 23 February –

A quick note to say that I have the good fortune of presenting next week as part of the Bournemouth University, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology Research Seminars series (join on Zoom). Per the line-up, I’m in great company this term, and am especially looking forward to speaking as I haven’t given a public presentation in over a year.

Speakers in BU’s Archaeology and Anthropology Research Seminars series, which started this month and runs until the end of May.

I’ve been very appreciative of my colleagues and friends who have reached out to check on where I’ve been over this time. The simple answer is that the transition into my current job has entailed the steepest learning curve of my life. It’s been very hard, and as my presentation will inevitably hint at, it has confronted me full-force with how archaeologists can and must work in allied fashion – within and between teams, organisations, industries and across borders – to grapple with immediate matters of interest to the profession and wider publics, but also to ensure that the decisions we make today – about the past, and about the discipline of archaeology itself – are informed by an expert ability to think, plan and design critically for the future.

How do we do this? I believe part of the answer lies in honing our expertise in grappling with values and affect, and through serious attention to design justice (see Costanza-Chock 2020) as well as strategic foresight approaches and critical & speculative futures work (e.g., see various contributions in Holtorf and Högberg (2021)).

More details on the talk below. It’s free, open to all via Zoom, and starts at 4pm GMT on Tuesday 23 Feb. Hope to see you there!

Title. Designing affect into archaeology: structural and methodological reparations for a more responsive and responsible discipline

Summary. Although many have called for – and attempted to enact – forms of practice that aim to repair or reconfigure our discipline along lines that are just, sustainable and equitable, these efforts often fail to fundamentally alter archaeology’s underlying structures and pernicious rote methodologies. Here, I argue that unless we consciously adopt and consistently apply a framework of design justice (Costanza-Chock 2020), long-standing disciplinary oppressions will persist. I review a number of recent propositions around nurturing care, hope, emotion, and enchantment in archaeology. I then make the case that such seemingly ephemeral concepts can be actualised in our methods, in our programmes, in our training, and across our professional and academic institutions through a purposeful engagement with design justice theory and method, borne in part of the fields of information technology and human-computer interactions. I highlight some simple examples of what a justly-designed archaeology could look like, and I conclude by pointing our eyes towards emerging initiatives that take seriously the design process, and in so doing provide archaeologists with a framework that can truly hold us to account.

Costanza-Chock, Sasha, 2020. Design Justice: Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Holtorf, Cornelius, and Högberg, Anders (eds.), 2021. Cultural Heritage and the Future. London: Routledge.