Slow Archaeology in Mobilizing the Past

This week, I’ve largely turned my blog over to promoting newest book from The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota. The centerpiece of this promotion has been the pre-release of the introduction. This has resulted in substantial traffic to the Digital Press website, some great social media buzz, and a heartening number of downloads.

As part of this preview, I also offered a little easter egg. Near the bottom of the table of contents page, I included a download link to my contribution to the volume. Only 11% of the folks who downloaded the introduction scrolled down the page and noticed the other download link highlighted. (What’s interesting is that about 10% of the traffic to the Digital Press site came from this blog where I told readers there was an easter egg, and while I cant track the behavior of visitors referred from this site, at best only only 30% of those visitors downloaded the the easter egg.) 

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Here’s the abstract to that paper. 

Slow Archaeology

Slow archaeology situates contemporary, digital archaeological practice both within the historical tradition of the modern discipline of archaeology and within a discourse informed by calls for Taylorist efficiency. Rather than rejecting the use of digital tools, slow archaeology advocates for a critical engagement with the rapidly changing technological landscape in the field. This contribution draws upon lessons from the popular “slow moment” and academic discussions of modernity and speed to consider the impact that the rapid adoption of digital tools has on archaeological practice and knowledge production. Slow archaeology pays particular attention to how digital tools fragment the process of archaeological documentation, potentially deskill fieldwork by relying on digital (Latourian) “blackbox” methods, and erode the sense of place so crucial to archaeological claims of provenience. The result of this critical attention to digital practices is neither a condemnation of new tools nor an unabashed celebration of their potential to transform the discipline, but a call to adopt new technologies and methods in a deliberate way that grounds archaeological knowledge production in the realm of field practice.

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