Welcome to tonight’s actual accessibility archaeology post from me as the Lonely Archaeologist. I started this blog because I thought there was something fundamentally wrong with the way archaeology was practiced in Australia if you weren’t *normal* and I had significant challenges to overcome but I saw my tenacity and persistence as character traits a good archaeologist needs along with the communication skills to explain to a diverse public and community what we are doing.
So I started this blog as a way of practicing those skills in heritage appropriate and adjacent areas for a disabled archaeologist because in the current system of culture heritage management in Australia, I’m broken goods and let’s not pretend I’ve been denied field work opportunities because of my situation. I found some smaller demonstrations and presentation work but I’m unable to find places as a volunteer to excavate or do survey work or I can’t dive medically or even participate in a conservation fieldschool in Australia last year because I wasn’t physically able enough. I can’t even get work as tour guide at a library, local museum or any other state institutions I applied for despite doing extra training and being in the leadership program run by Flinders careers called The Horizon Award. That’s me with the head of the SAM at a Night Lab event in 2016, one I volunteered less than half a week after being hit by a tram.I spoke up on this little blog about my difficulties in finding acceptance at Flinders by other archaeologists & students. As a result, Enabled found me, a dis/Abled and Enabled community of archaeologists and students from a wide international context and I learned about a model of archaeology that aims to be inclusive and accessible for all in so many ways across so many branches that is a whole lecture. I’ll detail them over the near future if I can get my ten minutes of fame at Flinders, but if you’ve been reading this blog at all, you know I’m a gigantic academic fan of Doctor Who and time travel in general. In fact last year I almost had a chapter published based on queer attitudes in archaeology and in science fiction in Beyond Indy and Lara but missed out due to my university’s inaction to remove a stalker from a group project in an elective subject and unsupportive lecturer whose teaching pedagogy was incompatible with Enabled student accommodation against disability service’s advice, they aggravated my newly diagnosed but not managed fibromyalgia. That is me on a ghost hunt at the Old Gaol trying to get review experiences of Haunted Horizon’s award winning tour.
But the thing is, when I was studying Doctor Who’s vision of archaeology in the future, I was encouraged because the most well known archaeologist, River Song, was a psychopath and antiheroine (with Time Lord DNA making her as different from neurotypical like me). There was also Jack Harkness, a pansexual time agent who was pretty close to Lara Croft in attitude and black market antiquities, deviated from the Indiana Jones stereotype and of rugged Howard Carter manly adventuring tomb raiding mythology (even poor Lara had to be more macho than the men and was prey to toxic masculinity). Here are some famous British examples of archaeology of the speculative future and neither of them are like the models we have in Australia. We get the Man From Snowy River. River Song had fought against her mental illness/injury all her augmented life span and Jack’s inventive approaches to illegal artefact acquisition and selling were anything but conventional.
These two characters and then add Berenice Summerfield in the Big Finish extended Whovian universe, hold space (quite literally) for diverse Enabled archaeologists like me. I can’t see how the EAF started in Britain isn’t part of this shifting in position of accessibility in archaeology and expanding the experiences and diversity in the heritage of the discipline. Still some of the archaeology establishment don’t have the foresight to see this how times are changing. I’ll post more on this ams how it all relates to a book with the title “Time travelling and the future of the past” by Professor Cornelius Holtorf and how my ideas were received in conversation around the visit to Flinders about these changes happening all over the world. I imagine after looking through Holtorf’s book that lived experience and the futurism of archaeology is going to be a fascinating conversation.
Clara Santill, 2017