Thursday 11 June 2020

"Landscapes of Detectorists"

'Landscapes of Detectorists' ... Edited by Innes M. Keighren and Joanne Norcup  112pp, 234 x 142 paperback with flaps £12.00  Published 19 June 2020 illustrated throughout with black and white stills from the comedy series. ...
‘Landscapes of Detectorists’ considers the programme’s engagement with landscape, its ecological resonances, and its attention to place and identity. This book offers four distinct geographical readings of Detectorists—Innes M. Keighren attends to the sensory, technological, and emotional interpretation of landscape; Isla Forsyth examines the relationship between objects, memory, and place; the significance of verticality, the aerial, and groundedness is discussed by Andrew Harris; and Joanne Norcup considers the contested interconnections of gender, expertise, and knowledge making. The collection is bookended by reflections on the creative processes and decisions that supported the journey of Detectorists from script to screen: in a foreword written by its writer-director, Mackenzie Crook, and in an afterword written by its originating producer, Adam Tandy.  
So, apart from the foreword by Mackenzie Crook, were the essays written by active metal detector using artefact hunters then?  I see they quote Felicity Winkley's work. From the bits they show, it seems the book is actually about the comedy series and what it "shows" about collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record. The problem with this approach is that this was a comedy series, not a documentary. Not all metal detectorists on the forums agreed at the time that this programme gave a very accurate portrait of the hobby as they know it (though others welcomed the publicity and 'warm image' it gave the hobby), and certain aspects were romanticised, and certainly 'gentrified' when seen against the background of what happens on the forums across England and Wales as a whole. The programme also proved to be very effective propaganda for collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record and therefore detrimental to the preservation of the archaeological record.  The real "landscape" of detectorists in the UK is surface sites all over the country clandestinely stripped of diagnostic artefacts. So basically totally trashing huge swathes of the archaeological record making any future landscape archaeology projects totally invalid. I doubt that is what the geographers will be writing about. There's interdisciplinarity for you.

Update 11th June 2020:
One of the authors (the one writing of understanding "the contested interconnections of gender, expertise, and knowledge making" [sic] in the collecting community) ventures:
Dr Joanne Norcup@jonorcup·24 min
W odpowiedzi do @PortantIssues @Uniformbooks i jeszcze 4 osób
Paul I have been a member of the NCMD (lapsed currently) and own a Garrett EuroAce 250 (I believe similar to that of Paul Lee in the show). Mostly used along deserted lowtide beaches when membership active. Removed lots of metal litter from east coast. Prized find this rusted nail.
Beach detecting for wave-washed junk is not one of the concerns of this blog. But such experience hardly does anything to convince me that taking a comedy show as its 'source' the readers of this book will learn anything much about 'knowledge making' in anything but a narrow sense from collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record. I am interested what reviews this will receive in the archaeological literature in the UK. On the other perhaps I'm not, it'd probably be fawning, as is the case with about anything connected with "detecting". Bonkers.

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