Punk Archaeology Revisited

One of my disappointments over the last several years is that I never figured out what to do with the content that Kostis Kourelis and I produced over on the Punk Archaeology blog. At one point I grabbed the content and striped the formatting and toyed with the idea of turning it into a book, but that other, more conventional, publication projects absorbed my time and attention.

The Punk Archaeology blog, of course, continues to stand on the internet and every now and then someone contacts me and asks about it. Like many of the “newer” punk movements (cyberpunk, edu-punk, whatever), the use of the word “punk” attracts the attention of distopians, counterculturists, and scholars (often from the margins) who are looking to define unique approaches to their work. One such scholar (and fellow blogger) Aaron Barth urged me to consider doing something with punk archaeology in the Red River Valley. 

So over the last few days we’ve hastily crafted a proposal for funding a short punk archaeology “meet up” or “round table” this winter. Naturally, we gravitated to a February 2nd/3rd date for the event and somewhere in the Fargo/Moorhead area seems appropriately punk for the event.

Here’s my proposal:

Punk Archaeology is a movement and a set of practices. These practices range from DIY approaches to field procedures to embracing alternate methods for disseminating archaeological data and interpretations, to transparency in interpretive processes and to an interest in the recent past, the ephemeral in the landscape, and subjects that fall outside of and challenge the traditional purview of archaeological investigations. Practitioners of punk archaeology come from all parts of the discipline and many archaeologists embrace aspects associated with this movement without recognizing the connection.

Punk Archaeology takes it name from the punk rock movement of the 1970s and 1980s. Punk rock represented a new interpretation of traditional Anglo-American popular music produced by a group who sought to capture the anxiety of a rapidly changing world. In some ways, punk concerns had points of contact with those of archaeologists. Changes in the meaning and structure of urbanism, the distopian impulses of Late Capitalism, and the full embrace of the irony as the dominant trope in both popular and academic culture provided ample fodder for a dynamic, abrasive, and experimental sonic landscapes. Cyberpunk novels, steampunk designs, punk film and fashion, punk political movements, and – more recently – edu-punk pedagogies have formally crafted punk ideologies into a transmedia and transdisciplinary discourses which rely on a common conceptual vocabulary without implying  a convergent cultural trajectory. In other words, the punk movements provided a group of concepts and terms with connections throughout the 21st century world and infused them with sufficient dissonance to stimulate and support new readings, interpretations, and practices.

The Punk Archaeology roundtable brings together individuals who incorporate various aspects of punk practice into their work. Complementing and reinforcing the transdisciplinary discourse of punk, the roundtable will feature punk and post-punk music, take place in a non-traditional surrounding, and intentionally eschew some of the typical conventions of academic conversation. Participants will keep their comments short (to less than 3 minutes), the format will encourage improvised conversation between the participants and the audience, and the dialogue will be recorded to preserve a “live” transcript of the event. Following tradition of love, low-fi recording and DIY practices the transcription of the proceedings will be quickly published as a book with selections from the seminal “Punk Archaeology” blog supplementing an edited version of the conference transcript. A model for this kind of publication comes from N+1’s recent small volume titled What Was the Hipster? (2010).


And, yes, I did call my blog seminal. 



  1. Where/when/how do I sign up and how can I help?


  2. Love it.
    Being an old Punk and an Archaeologist ( Oi Polloi Guitarist) and ( David Connolly of BAJR ) how could I not.

    Wish I could come to this. but being Scotland bound. not too likely!
    My own contribution is Guerilla Archaeology – the swift unencumbered swoop onto a site – minimal equipment, minimal intervention… maximum information retrieval… then out….. and to the pub.

    Good luck and best of



    1. David,

      Thanks for the encouragement and I love the term Guerilla Archaeology.

      We’ll certainly keep you in the loop as we develop our Punk Archaeology program and maybe technology can help us find a way to get you involved.



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