WIA Blog Post: Ethics Cases and the Real World

From a post I wrote for the WIA blog: https://womeninarchaeology.com/2019/05/28/ethics-cases-and-the-real-world/

Check out all of the great posts by the hosts of the Women in Archaeology Podcast!

Full Text:

I think every student should have a good grasp of cultural resource management (CRM) legislation, from the Antiquities Act of 1906 to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA).  It’s important to know how and why we practice archaeology in the United States, to show the effort necessary to protect the past.  Frankly, without CRM law, most American archaeologists wouldn’t have a job. As much as I want to think the best about the USA, I don’t think the government would automatically record, preserve, and protect archaeological sites without laws in place.  It’s similar to the need for the Clean Air Act or Clean Water Act—without it, things would be so much worse.  Our representatives have to make sure we’re not breathing mercury.  With the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA), agencies like the National Park Service or Forest Service are legally mandated to have archaeologists on staff.  Without the NHPA, sites would easily be destroyed in the name of progress.  Or pit toilets.

When studying CRM law, you’ll quickly learn there’s a lot of gray area, when ‘acting in good faith’ can mean different things.  For one archaeologist, it may mean making sure everything is surveyed and carefully recorded, sending out consultation letters and following up with stakeholders, and so on.  For others, it means doing the bare minimum, cutting corners whenever and wherever possible.  It’s important to recognize the difference, when there’s both a legal and moral imperative to do the right thing.  It’s our responsibility (both as citizens and archaeologists) to keep archaeology honest, because there are far too many who relish doing work in that gray area.   Google ‘Effigy Mounds National Monument’ and ‘NPS destroys archaeology to build trails’ and you’ll see that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  There are well-known public lands agencies that routinely ignore CRM laws, indicating not only the necessity of enforcing these laws, but also the need and value of integrity in our field.  Now that I have you thoroughly depressed and/or confused, back to the matter at hand.

Okay, CRM laws and archaeology.  There’s this lovely event at the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) conference called ‘The Ethics Bowl’ where a bunch of graduate student teams debate ethical and legal issues in CRM—sounds thrilling, I know (I actually love this stuff).  For my Intro to Archaeology course, I have my students break up into groups and dissect a case study from one of the Ethic Bowls.   These cases describe real-world situations in archaeology, where the right answer isn’t always clear.  For example, one case from 2018 describes a new supervisory archaeologist at a company who is pressured to make her crew survey too fast a pace (miss sites), push it in over 100 degree weather (OSHA violations), not record GPS points or notes or take photographs, and purposefully miss sites.  This is a huge violation of NHPA, and beyond that, it is unethical to push a crew, even if it means not making the profit a company hoped for.  Both archaeology and archaeologists suffer in this instance.

There are a variety of Ethics Bowel cases available on the SAA website, including issues surrounding human remains, international sites, community involvement, looting and so on.  The cases are supposed to make you think.  The focus is largely on how we conduct archaeology, not how archaeologists conduct themselves.  There are definitely bad archaeologists in the field.  I’ve never really thought about ethics cases covering what can happen at universities, at field schools, in the field hotel on a CRM project, beyond the project, in an advisor’s office.  The things we—as archaeologists—all know happens, but simply don’t talk about. Sexual harassment and discrimination aren’t covered in CRM law and practice.  It isn’t something I’ve routinely covered with my students in the past.  This is where that issue of integrity comes really comes into play.  Is our field a safe space for upcoming young archaeologists to thrive?  Frankly, it depends.

There aren’t provisions in the NHPA on what to do if a crew chief consistently belittles you based on your gender.  It wasn’t covered in undergrad or graduate school what to do if your advisor at field school tries rape you.  Retaliation for reporting discrimination or refusing your advisor’s advances isn’t spelled out in any compliance law.  I am so used to only considering compliance legalities, not necessarily who is involved in that work.  It is easy to assume that all an archaeologist would have to worry about is the ethical and legal side of one’s work—not being afraid if your rapist, victimizer, assailant, would be welcome at the same events you wish to attend, like a professional meeting (i.e. SAA 2019 Conference).  An entire organization demonstrated that you can scream at the top of your lungs, but they won’t stop to listen, deciding to keep up the façade that there’s nothing wrong with our field.

While perusing the 2019 Ethics Bowl cases (yes, SAA, this looks bad), I was surprised to come across Case Seven, which describes the situation of Tim Roberts, a third-year doctoral student who feels increasingly uncomfortable by his advisor; she made advances, lewd remarks, etc.  When confronted, she threatens him with leaking his research.  When he reaches out to faculty, they dismiss his claim, state he shouldn’t talk about the accusations, and threaten dismissing him from the program.  Sadly, this is not an uncommon real-world story.  And, as the SAA demonstrated, something most organizations like to pretend isn’t happening.  CRM laws have no sway over this case, and reporting systems fail, so it’s all up to ethics and integrity.  And if that fails?  Long ago, I was taught to consider myself lucky to only have been sexually harassed in the field.  Did the organization I worked for do anything to the individual? No.  What did that teach me?  I simply wasn’t as important as my crew chief, to move on, that I was lucky, that it could’ve been worse.  The #MeToo symposium at the SAA 2019 Conference further highlighted how prevalent and well-known harassment, discrimination, and assault are in our field.  So, what should ‘Tim Roberts’ do?  I don’t know.  And that scares me.

As I wrote earlier, I think every student should have a good grasp of cultural resource management (CRM) legislation, from the Antiquities Act of 1906 to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA).   But, there needs to be more.  During my last couple of courses, I’ve tried sharing the underbelly of our work, not only unethical compliance stories.  Students should know.  I provide the harassment policies of various organizations, talk about reporting abuse, and so on.  I share social media statements, news articles, and my own observations from the SAA 2019 conference.

Students to professionals should be able to practice archaeology without fear of discrimination or retaliation for refusing to keep quiet.   Where do we go from here?  Instead of this whole debacle at the 2019 SAA conference becoming just another Ethics Bowl case, let’s hope the organization will sincerely listen to task forces (hopefully, CRM and federal agencies will follow suit), understand the social media anger, truly embrace the #MeToo movement, and make archaeology a more welcoming place.  Unless broad sweeping changes and major attitude adjustments are made, the same things will happen again and again.  Without action, valuing ethics and policies just simply isn’t enough.  We can do better.

Links:

If you attended the 2019 Society for American Archaeology (SAA) conference and/or have kept up with the organization’s incredibly poor response to the Yesner situation, you then know how incredibly disappointed so many people are in the SAA.  And, others have put it far more eloquently than I ever could.

My Resignation as Chair of the SAA Media Relations Committee (Killgrove) http://www.poweredbyosteons.org/2019/04/my-resignation-as-chair-of-saa-media.html

That Time The Society for American Archaeology Blocked Me On Twitter (Killgrove): http://www.poweredbyosteons.org/2019/04/that-time-society-for-american.html

#SAA2019 and the Public Face of Harassment: Thoughts and Resources on #metoo and the SAA (Klembara and Markert): http://mapabing.org/2019/05/01/saa2019-and-the-public-face-of-harassment-thoughts-and-resources-on-metoo-and-the-saa/

Scholarly Society in ‘Crisis’: Want to know how to handle a Me Too-related incident and related public relations snafu? Don’t ask the Society for American Archaeology (Flaherty): https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/04/30/how-not-handle-me-too-related-public-relations-crisis

View Dr. Sarah Rowe’s Letter to SAA president Joe Watkins on twitter: https://twitter.com/Archaeo_Girl/status/1120502473003819009

View new membership and establishment of the SAA Task Force on Sexual and Anti-Harassment Policies and Procedures on Twitter: @SAATFPolicies

 

Women In Archaeology Podcast, Episode 65: SAA 2019 Conference Recap

You can listen to the episode HERE (i.e. WIA website) or download the episode on iTunes!

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For the first time ever, all our hosts are in the same location for episode 65!! Come take a listen to all the amazing things that were presented at the conference. Revel in positivity as much as you can! The last segment of the episode we dive into the nitty gritty of SAA’s inaction regarding a known sexual predator in attendance. These statements were all made as of the Saturday evening of the conference. TRIGGER WARNING: contains discussion on sexual abuse, institutional inaction, and trepanation.

Show Notes:

Despite the shadow that fell over much of the conference, some pretty badass work was presented. Check it out here: Program for SAA 2019

Notes on other fun topics include: an article on the lady mentioned by Chelsi who recorded her self-trepanation in the 1970s.

Here are the important pieces to know regarding the The ineffectual SAA Anti-Harassment Policy, and the 2015 statement on sexual harassment. In the week since recording and then posting this episode, the SAA has responded with the following: A public apology to the membership, andan open letter to the membership for the chance to do better. Note there is no real plan of of action.

Follow us for a deeper discussion on the incident in the near future. If you find what we have to say meaningful to you, please subscribe and support us as a Patron.

Find us on Twitter: Women in Archaeology is @WomenArchys; Chelsi is @Osteoarcheo, Emily is @Trowel_Tales, Serra is @ArchyFantasies, and Kirsten is @ArchyFem

Women in Archaeology Podcast: Re-Release of ‘Badass Women in Archaeology’

Listen to the podcast on the Women in Archaeology Blog [Click Here] or listen to the podcast on iTunes!

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Join us in celebrating some amazing women in the history of the field!

Show Notes:

*50 Most Important Women in Science

Dig Ventures: Pioneering Women in Archaeology

Rejected Princesses: Zelia Nuttall

Trowel Blazers: see what they are doing in 2019 at the bottom of the page!

Archaeological Fantasies: Gertrude Bell

Book: Ladies of the Field by Amanda Adams

**featured image copied from the Gertrude Bell Archive [1] [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Support your independent podcast below by becoming a WIA patron!

 

Women in Archaeology Podcast: The Shutdown

The Women in Archaeology Podcast: The Shutdown (Click Here to listen at Womeninarchaeology.com or download the episode from itunes)

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Join us as we take a closer look at what the shutdown means for archaeologists, public lands, and the consequences that will likely stretch into the rest of 2019.

Show Notes:

Government Contractors such as archaeologists

Human Waste Issues

Agency plans during shutdown: see how each agency is handling the shutdown and how you are affected.

How congress can trump Trump

Economic Effects

Book Review of ‘Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners’ by Therese Oneill

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There are those who yearn for the days when life was ‘simpler,’ the chance to flounce around in pretty dresses, running through fields of heather on a dusky moor to pine away for lost loves.  I’ve certainly fallen into that trap before, especially while watching (okay, re-watching) Pride and Prejudice, but all one needs to do is open a history book to realize that nostalgia is stupid.  And, if you’re going to read a history book, why not delve into one describing the almost unbelievable Victorian attitudes towards women?  Oneill’s delightful book rips the lacy veil from the Victorian era to highlight the ridiculous rules and concepts imposed on women.  For example, women were thought to be addicted to menstruating.  Seriously.  The book opens with an invitation and a warning: “I can take you there.  I can make the past so real it will bring tears to your eyes.”  Oh, she does.

There are rules that will make you laugh out loud to stories that will make you want to want to stomp your foot at the sheer stupidity of the past.  To be a woman in the nineteenth century must have been a constant ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ kind of situation.  As an archaeologist, I want to know the nitty-gritty aspects of life, and Oneill does not disappoint when it comes to detail.  How on earth did women take care of business in 20 pounds of petticoats and lace?  Now I know.  And then there are all the details I did not necessarily need to know, but those facts are burned into my memory now.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this delightful romp through the past—it will make you appreciate the small things in life, like flushing toilets, pads and tampons, modern medicine, and basic human rights.

Women in Archaeology Podcast: Identity Archaeology with Chelsea Blackmore

I am a proud member of the Women in Archaeology Podcast and Blog!  We recently left the Archaeology Podcast Network to set out on our own and make new content.  Check out all of our older podcasts on the WIA website and on iTunes. You can listen to the podcast on iTunes as well!  Don’t forget to subscribe! Click Here to visit website and listen to the episode on the Women in Archaeology website.

On this episode . . .

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Chelsea Blackmore joins us to discuss her work on identity, oppression, queer archaeology and outreach.  Dr. Blackmore is a professor at UC Santa Cruz whose primary work has focused on the construction of social difference in Mesoamerica, particularly among the Maya.  Some of her more recent work has included analysis of a Spanish Mission site in California and pirate archaeology.  We discuss how her interests developed, the need for better representation in archaeology, and the new Queer Archaeology Blog.

Show Notes:

https://queerarchaeology.com

TBD Podcast

SAA Archaeological Record Special Edition

SHA GMAC

http://queeranthro.org/

Find Chelsea and the Queer Archaeology team on:

https://queerarchaeology.com/contact-us/

@QueerArch on Twitter

https://www.facebook.com/QueerArch/

Women in Archaeology Podcast: Pseudoarchaeology with Stephanie

I am a proud member of the Women in Archaeology Podcast and Blog!  We recently left the Archaeology Podcast Network to set out on our own and make new content.  Check out all of our older podcasts on the WIA website and on iTunes. You can listen to the podcast on iTunes as well!  Don’t forget to subscribe! Click Here to visit website and listen to the episode on the Women in Archaeology website.

On this episode . . .

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Today’s panel discusses the wild world of pseudo-archaeology. The regular panel is joined by Stephanie Halmhofer at Bones, Stones, and Books, and Sara Head from Archaeological Fantasies to discuss the nature of pseudo-archaeology, how to identify it, what to do when you see it, and how we as archaeologists can combat it.