Change in scenery

Over the past few years I’ve been based in Cairns, far north Queensland, working as a heritage advisor for Aboriginal community groups and developers. However the past several months have seen a bundle of changes in my life which revolve around a new position in the Department of Archaeology, Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia.

The new position involves lecturing in archaeology and cultural heritage management topics. I’ll be coordinating Indigenous Heritage Management, Cultural Heritage Management and an Indigenous archaeology field school over the next year (and no doubt a few others). Although I’ve only been in the role for a few weeks, I can see a lot of potential for linking some of my long-standing research interests with teaching activities and student research projects. We already have a graduate student to work on one of my community based heritage projects at Weipa, which I’ll encourage her to write about soon.

I doubt that I will formally meld my blogging interests with my teaching duties, largely because we use a Uni wide implementation of Blackboard. However, I do think that being in a fundamentally different head space will benefit my blogging. This is particularly the case because in order to teach well you need to read widely and engage with various debates and ideas in much more substantive ways than you can when you are a solo contract archaeologist. I also note with interest that the Department has a blog which boasts some of the work being carried out by students in the graduate programs in archaeology and cultural heritage. I hope to inject some social media into this equation in time, so that the work of students here gets more widely promoted.

I have also recently been reading a little on communicating archaeology and the importance of engaging with the public. It’s not something that I’ve explicitly set out to do here in the past – indeed this site has had one long identity crisis – however on reflection I think that it needs to become more oriented towards non-specialist audiences interested in things that interest me. It’s no fun writing if you don’t engage your readers. And Australian archaeology and Indigenous history is somewhat poorly represented and understood by non-professionals. As Lilley (2005: 100) has recently suggested, unless professionals become more active in this area, the discipline risks becoming “stuck in a groove, communicating only with an ever-decreasing circle of like-minded professional colleagues while continuing to bemoan public ignorance and lack of support”. Apt words indeed in the age of massively social media.

References:

Lilley, I., 2005. Archaeology and the politics of change in a decolonising Australia. In Object lessons: archaeology and heritage in Australia. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, pp. 89-106. 

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