Monday 6 July 2015

Why do it?

I was chiding a colleague for failing to engage with some of the self-serving balderdash and bluster of the Black Hat Guys the other day. I was told that it was too difficult and that this person was not as "tough" as I am dealing with the flak. No, I am not tough. I get really frustrated by all the personal aggro received in return for just raising here issues and urging we find solutions. Discouraging this is of course exactly why these nasties use these tactics. As we see, it certainly discourages some from entering the discussion. Why do I do it?

I think we archaeologists, academics too, have a duty to take part in public debate as part of our work. Heritage professionals all say that the heritage belongs to all, and the public has a right to know, but then almost to a man/woman turn their backs when deliberate campaigns of misinformation by collectors, dealers and all the rest require them dirtying their hands a little to address the issue. 

If things are being said in the public domain which are untrue and damaging and affect public perception of archaeological issues, then surely we should be prepared to present the other side of the picture and not sit in an ivory tower shrugging our shoulders and hoping that the public will somehow 'sort it out for themselves' without any input from them. After most archaeologists doing that, we then act all surprised when it turns out that after eighteen years of PAS mismanagement of their outreach, the general public mostly think archaeology is about "Britain's Secret Treasures" and gold like the Staffordshire Hoard.

I do not think this applies just to archaeology or environmentalism.

British archaeologists, however, are particularly bad at doing it when it comes to addressing issues connected with collecting and the antiquities trade. In fact as a group they have been and are downright pathetic and not a bit embarrassed about it.

Vignette: Marmite a bit like detectorists, you either love them, or avoid them.

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