Posted: 01/01/2014 in Research, resistance
Tags: ,

If you have evidence of blacklisting or other political subversion of the profession…

I’ve long worked on the monitoring, manipulation and blacklisting of cultural heritage workers. Events constantly remind you that archaeologists in Turkey are practically prohibited from making any professional criticism, because it’s illegal for state employees to criticise state projects (and most archaeologists are state employees). But it’s not a problem confined to “difficult” environments.

It isn’t shocking, but it is still saddening to find expert judgement being silenced, public debate being undermined, and socially-harmful public policy being protected in relatively free places as well as in relatively unfree places. And (at least some) state employees(1) in the UK are contractually prohibited from public opposition to the aims or policies of their institution and its officials, even if it is a wholly professional protest against the closure of public institutions, inadequate provision of legally-required services, or the replacement of professional workers with volunteers.

Spleen-venting and whistle-blowing

If you have experienced or witnessed, or have evidence of, blacklisting or other political subversion of the profession (whether it’s in Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Italy or elsewhere), please contact me. I promise you absolute confidentiality; I promise you that I will reveal as much as I can of the problem without revealing who you are or otherwise leaving you vulnerable to punishment for speaking out.

If you have complaints about the implementation of austerity and its effects on workers or their services, you should probably contact organisations with a significant public voice (such as, in the UK, the Council for British Archaeology (CBA), British Archaeological Jobs and Resources (BAJR) or Rescue). But if you contact me, I will try to help, especially if you want to discuss the experience of unpaid labour or unemployment (and the choice between the two).

I don’t expect this blog to become an archaeological Wikileaks, or a blacklisting hotline, or even a blacklisting blog; but I do want cultural heritage workers to know that, if they want to speak (out), then they can do it here safely.

The good, the bad and the ugly

When Doug asked about the good, the bad and the ugly of archaeology blogging, my immediate memories were: of earning an unlikely source concerning a suspicious death (good); of being blocked from applying for research funding (bad); and of having nationalist activists (know who I was and consequently attend an international conference in order to) slander me in public and libel me in newspapers (ugly (2)). So, if anyone does want to share information, they can be sure that I empathise with them and that I can be trusted with the information.


1: They are not civil servants (who are bound by the Official Secrets Act).

2: Their knowing of me from my online work is the least worrying possibility.

  1. […] Sam at (un)free archaeology takes his post as a chance to strike back against some of the ugly he sees in and archaeology and offers his blog up as whistleblowing platform- […]

  2. […] my work on Nazi War Diggers must be my best. (Rather sadly, my Unfree Archaeology support for whistleblowing may turn out to be my worst blogging, insofar as no-one has blown the whistle on […]

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