Institute of Archaeology



FFS!!! - Keep Calm and Carry On??? Regaining Emotion in Archaeological Discourse | Wed Dec 18 09:30:00 | Room 731/6

This session's genesis was a RESPECT forum conversation on the silencing of “emotional” women during debates, as often emotional reactions are perceived as irrational rather than calm and rational. Where there is power imbalance, the voices of marginalised groups can be dismissed for displaying emotional responses, but these responses are incredibly powerful, challenging to witness and can prompt real change. The Equality Act (2010) defines a series of Protected Characteristics - age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage/civil partnership, pregnancy & maternity, race, religion/belief, sex and sexual orientation, which it is illegal to discriminate against yet all of these characteristics to a greater or lesser extent remain marginalised within academic debate and within the archaeological/heritage professions. This matters when examining power, knowledge and the past. Individual emotive responses are all different in the same scenario - a product of upbringing, societal pressures, gender etc. How can we reframe emotion within our own experience in order to reach a level of understanding if not empathy? How can we empower more open, frank and emotional discussions which allow more voices to be heard? How are we constrained by current accepted practice of debate? We invite papers on complex and emotive issues and emphasise that this is a space where emotive responses are welcome and part of the discussion. This session is an open forum for examining responses to issues that need emotion, human behaviour and human instinct to examine them critically and effectively..

Session timetable
9:30 | Kayt Hawkins, Archaeology South-East and UCL

Emotion in Archaeology

9:40 | Cat Rees, RESPECT

Passing the baton: enabled archaeology as the norm, not the exception

Sadly since our session order was determined one of our key speakers, Theresa O’Mahony passed away. She was an incredible woman and the driving force behind the UK Enabled Archaeology movement. In her memory we have included the session abstract she submitted, however instead of her paper there will be a short dedication to an inspirational speaker.

10:05 | Guillermo Diaz de Liano del Valle, University of Edinburgh; Jorge Canosa Betés, Institute of Heritage Sciences, Spanish National Research Council

Disciplining the self: emotions as gatekeeping mechanisms in Archaeology

This paper aims to discuss how Archaeology’s disciplinary culture shapes the way in which we display emotions, and how this emotional and behavioural disciplining effectively works as a gatekeeping mechanism at different stages of our professional careers.

Following Stephanie Moser, disciplinary practices include everything that a person ‘needs’ to know and do in order to be an archaeologist, encompassing both the required skills and knowledge, but also a wide range of behaviours and beliefs that are deemed to be ‘professional’, despite not being actually necessary nor benign. We will argue that emotions and their sanctioned display play a key role in terms of who becomes a researcher and how scientific discourses are constructed, and therefore need to be monitored if Archaeology aims to become a truly reflexive discipline.

We will illustrate our reasoning with two case studies from Spanish archaeology, in which we will analyse how negative emotions, and suffering in particular, are dismissed and/or glorified, becoming a key element in the disciplining of our emotions to fit within a toxic disciplinary culture.

10:30 | Anouk E. Everts MPhil, University of Cologne

Lifting Isis’ Skirt: Terracotta Figurines in their Sexual Context

Many ancient objects break the conventions of what modern audiences might consider ‘the norm’. Over the first few centuries of archaeological research, countless objects have been labelled as ‘grotesques’, given other names to indicate their strangeness, or relegated to being of ritual significance simply because they were considered ‘inappropriate’ by those who excavated them. Hidden from view and discussed only in the context of their ritual aspects, many sexually charged objects have been robbed of part of their agency in order to de-claw, (over) simplify, and ‘normalise’ the past. In recent years, archaeologists have started to re-examine these objects, a task in which they are still often met with resistance and scepticism.

My research concerns specifically terracotta figurines of Isis-Aphrodite Anasyromene; a figure who lifts her skirts and exposes her genitals, and ‘Baubo’ figurines; nude, fat (often labelled ‘pregnant’) figures that are depicted with their legs spread and pointing to, or touching, their sex. Both are considered primarily of ritual significance, their nudity attributed to fertility purposes. But what does ‘ritual fertility’ mean, really? Why do these figurines engender such a strong, sometimes negative response? Why does it remain so hard to discuss (female) sexuality in the ancient world? While many theoretical frameworks and perspectives are being interwoven, sexuality remains an outsider, discussed (almost) only in isolation, rather than being related to wider themes in archaeological discourse. How can we break this cycle and normalise discussions of ancient sexuality so that we can consider them a normal aspect of understanding the past?

10:55 | BREAK
11:25 | D. Kalani Heinz, University of California, Los Angeles

We are Mauna Kea: Emotionally-driven archaeology as a tool for decolonization

By virtue of being a kānaka ʻōiwi (Native Hawaiian) Hawaiian archaeologist, archaeology can never be unemotional for me because the decisions I make have real world consequences for my community. I carry this weight with me as well as a deep aloha (love) for my community every time I perform archaeology. Further, I am impacted by modern Hawaiian rights movements, like TMT (thirty meter telescope) and Mauna Kea. I cannot separate the emotions produced by these movements from the emotions produced by archaeology because we are fighting for the same thing. Just as these movements fight for legitimization of Hawaiian worldviews in modernity, my research fights for the legitimization of Hawaiian worldviews within archaeology. While my emotions are multi-layered and complex, they are exactly what motivated me to become a Hawaiian archaeologist and what shapes the topics I focus on and how I conduct my research. Emotion in archaeology, however, should not just be limited to those of us studying our own cultures, but has the ability to produce positive outcomes for all archaeologists. Emotions, like empathy, I argue, transforms archaeology by encouraging the formation of community relationships, and, by extension, the sharing of different worldviews.

These relationships should inspire new ways of interpreting the past by challenging internal biases. In this way, emotion stops archaeology from becoming just another form of neocolonialism by helping prevent Western ideologies from being imposed on the past and by inspiring the production of archaeological projects that are relevant to the communities being studied.

11:50 | Session organisers

The session will conclude with an open debate based upon the issues raised within the session and those written upon comment slips, or send anonymously to the organisers prior to the event. This short section will set the discussion points for after the break, and allow people to have time to think about the topics and discussion points.

12:00 | Session organisers

The session will conclude with an open debate based upon the issues raised within the session and those written upon comment slips, or send anonymously to the organisers prior to the event.

Due to the nature of the topics to be discussed, the room will be arranged on one level (i.e. not a tiered lecture theatre) in circular or semi-circular rows with the option for speakers to present whilst seated. The aim is to create as equal a space as possible rather than to have the hierarchy of speaker and attendee. This is intended to make this a less intimidating space to present within and it is hoped that this will encourage papers from less experienced participants.

There will be the facility whereby people can drop in comments, questions, experiences or concerns before: https://forms.gle/AP2fi2rdTu7fdG3o9 or during/after the session. These comments will be anonymous, but it is hoped this will provide additional material for follow up work and it is intended that the outcomes of this session will feed into a co-authored article from the Respect group with guidance on discussing, reporting, presenting issues in archaeology that take into account emotive responses, diverse triggers and reactions, and framing conversations inclusively and accessibly.

13:00 | END