We made the end of year highlights for Savage Minds.


As many, or at least some of you, are aware. I’m involved with an awesome and ever changing group of archaeologists in a really open ended project of introducing a type of theoretical perspective into our discipline that has been ignored for a very long time. In my view, this is a project not simply built on putting down bricks to create the foundation and steps for an academic career, but also one aimed at at least opening up some new ideas within our discipline and acknowledging some age-old biases that have been impacting social science research for a very long time.

So I’ve been making some publication decisions that are not always considered “smart” decisions in the academic field. This means, that while I am fully engaged with publishing peer-reviewed articles, I am also publishing in formats that will have larger impacts in terms of readership and availability. Part of the reasons that I am making these decisions (for myself) is that I believe archaeology needs to move outside of its basin of research and interact with more social sciences and engage more individuals outside of the social sciences who are in search of answers to problems they see in their lives and in their society.

All of this is a round about way of writing that I’m very excited to announce that the piece I co-authored with a non-hierarchy of fellow authors, and that Savage Minds graciously published in their insightful Decolonizing Anthropology series, was chosen as one of the highlights in their end of the year wrap-up. You can read that article by The Black Trowel Collective entitled, “Foundations of an Anarchist Archaeology: A Community Manifesto” by following the link. And if you have any questions about what a non-hierarchy of authors is, or why we went that route, please feel free to contact me through either email, the comments section, or in an IM.

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In the current US and Worldwide political climate, where thousands of people have suddenly realized that equity and justice are not a given, it is, I think, more important than ever to understand our shared pasts and the lessons in those stories. Archaeology is a great avenue to do that. But it only becomes relevant if we use it critically and if we treat research and preservation and education as points on a continuum instead of as fully differentiated fields. An anarchist archaeology is by no means the only way to accomplish this and for many years Feminists, Indigenists, Marxists, and many others have been doing just that. But for some of us this particular perspective helps shed keen insights onto the past, while critically exposing uncontested biases in our field.

For me in particular, it also reveals areas that archaeologists have for too long ignored because it didn’t seem to be worth their time. Because of this hands-off approach to these claims–and I’m mostly speaking about fringe and psuedoscience archaeology and their often implictly racist hyperdiffusionist arguments–archaeology and archaeologists (myself included) are, in many ways, complicit in the rise of the neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups who have come together and rebranded under the Alt-Right term. While I see friends and colleagues humorously posting images of Indiana Jones happily smacking a Nazi in the face and mentioning that they never thought archaeologists might actually have to fight Nazis, I also don’t see those archaeologists, outside of a select few, many of whom are on the Fraudulent Archaeology Wall of Shame facebook group started by Andrew White, actually using their archaeological knowledge to fight those racist views. In fact, Jason Colavito, one of the best people tearing apart the hyperdiffusionist views that support and gird up many of the racist views of the Alt-Right, is not even an archaeologist (although he should probably stop saying that and admit that he really is at this point. I’ll even induct you, Jason. There’s a ceremony and everything. Very official.). Anyways, I clearly have more to say about that and it’s probably because I’m writing something about it that I’ll publish at some point soon, but the main point is that if you’re looking for a perspective that critically questions yours and others assumptions, anarchism might be a good place to start. And you’ll quickly see the many wonderful and fruitful intersections it has with a lot of other social theory and perspectives.

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2 thoughts on “We made the end of year highlights for Savage Minds.

  1. Hello,
    I am currently working on an MA paper on the topic of public archaeology, and am trying to integrate the convergence of ‘open’ (internet/social-media) archaeology with activists archaeologies.

    As such, I stumbled upon this page as I ‘went down the rabbit hole’ looking for example of beyond journals articles. Needless to say. I am extremely intrigued, and enlivened by this anarchoarchaeology manifesto. In my undergrad I was definitely one of those typical anarcho-socialist college students, who didn’t really do much but rant on the internet. As a grad student I am obviously still formulating my ideas; but the potential archaeology has to do good through an active study of identity and public discussion of history to reveal and break down power structures its its most alluring and motivating characteristic.

    Although I’ve already written a very rough draft of a paper (a research proposal) for this years MAACS conference heavily influenced by third wave feminism, my recent discoveries of fourth wave and now this anarcho-archaeology perspective have undoubtedly shaped my perspective. If it is alright with the you and the collective, I would like to reframe my methodological framework as explicitly influenced by the manifesto, and perhaps give MD and VA archaeologists something to think about.

    I am dealing with people in my workplace who are still opposed to the study of identity and gender, so I am sure anarcho-archaeology won’t go over well.

    Like

    1. Hi! Of course, that would be wonderful. And to be honest there are a lot of intersections between intersectional feminism, fourth wave feminism, and anarchist theory. There is a trend of thought in anarchist theory that explicity deals with that called anarcho-feminism. AK Press has some nice books on the topic, mostly written by women in that field. I move a lot between gender/queer, feminist, indigenous, and anarchist theories because they are often approaching society from a perspective that incorporates a much wider (and often larger) perspective than many other anthro theories. I’m a big fan of the toolbox approach of making sure you have the right tools for the job and not trying to only take jobs that fit your one wrench. 🙂
      We also recently published a number of articles and dialogues in the newest SAA Archaeological Record that you should check out. I wrote an overview in their with Matt Sanger that is less manifesto and more introduction/history/path forward and it has a lot of citations for places to start. Feel free to contact me, either here/facebook/email, if you have any questions.
      And good luck with the topic and folks in the workplace. I’ve been lucky and people I work with have either seen the benefit in anarchist theory in interpreting the past and critically examining the present. Or they’ve at least given me space and time to work on it. Some of my colleagues have run into resistance, and the group that I wrote the Foundations piece with had some issues with a few archaeologists overly focused on their niche.
      Talk to you soon and I’ll be interested in reading your MA when you’re done!

      Like

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