Archive for August, 2013

To follow up on the general post on the old boys’ club and other problems that affect women’s participation in academic work, I thought I would post a tiny bit of my thesis, which is an exceedingly brief introduction to women’s participation in Cypriot archaeology.
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Internationally, while most students are women, (by far) most senior academics are men. And some part of that is simply because the most senior – the oldest – cohort entered and progressed through the profession in unashamedly sexist times. But most of the problem is far less innocent.
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I believe there is massive under-reporting of unpaid labour to the Institute for Archaeologists (IfA) by non-paying “employers” in the cultural heritage industry. However, it appears to be simply because museum workers don’t consider their jobs to be archaeological work, rather than because they recognise that dependence on unpaid labour might be ethically problematic…
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Previously, I’ve touched on universities’ hopes to exploit their graduates to mentor their students through online courses without pay, and to conduct unpaid research internships (or “non-stipendiary fellowships“). PhD students and postdoctoral researchers are ‘cheap, highly motivated and disposable labour‘; there is a great over-supply of these low-paid, insecure and temporary workers; and of the few who enter “regular” academic work, most remain in precarity.

At the end of the USI Live interview, when we were discussing the need for collective struggle, I squeezed in some statistics on labour in academia. Here, I want to note the consequences of the long-running precarisation of scholarship in the United States, then present the stats on the academic precariat in the United Kingdom (as precisely as possible).
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I believe that naming-and-shaming is valuable – and there have been more adverts for part-time unpaid internships for qualified, skilled, experienced workers and full-time unpaid internships for economically-insecure workers – but we also need to organise and act as a labour movement.
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I just did an interview on unpaid internships in the cultural heritage industry with Union Solidarity International. I’m going to try to post some more facts and figures soon, but here’s the not-quite-car-crash video…
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Expleting about unpaid labour used to be a handy distraction from life on the dole. And it is even more so now, as I am forced to literally perform ever more futile job searches in order to earn my subsistence. But suddenly the concentrated #freearchaeology conversation, which was started by Emily Johnson (@ejarchaeology), is everywhere – (more) blogs, Twitter, Facebook, professional forums, citizen media (USI Live at 1.30pm GMT on Thursday) – so I’m going to try to make a few key clarifications and queries here.
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Archaeologist Çağrı Yağar’s first blog post is about the problem of free archaeology (in Turkish). He begins by describing the strange pleasure of spending your summers working from 5am to 2pm under the sun in forty-degree heat, then working late into the night in the office. And he ends by confronting the reality for archaeology graduates in Turkey.
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Over on Conflict Antiquities, I’ve briefly and amateurishly reviewed the crisis of looting and destruction in Egypt, the Egyptian Archaeologists’ Syndicate demand for the blacklisting of all foreign archaeologists, and the possible contribution of archaeological unemployment to the political campaign.

I believe that it may be very significant, because there are both many unemployed young archaeologists and ‘minimal work opportunities outside of the ministry‘. My perception is that the campaign to prohibit foreign archaeologists may be stupid, offensive and dangerous; and it may make sites more vulnerable to cultural property crime; but it would be immediately understandable as a product of economic desperation.

Doug’s highlighted one of the (many) things that frustrates me about free archaeology. (I spend a lot of my time stemming the flow of vitriol.) The unpaid-labour-dependent model’s not even sustainable (or, at the very least, not truly functional).
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