There comes a time in the semester, especially the spring semester, where I find myself just treading water and trying to keep my head above the waves. This is usually the result of grading, various projects coming in for landings, reading for class, manuscript reviews, and the typical day-to-day work of being alive. It’s during these times, that I turn to my stack of articles, edited volumes, and unfinished side projects and start to think about how I can spend a few minutes here and there making progress without getting so bogged down that I slip beneath the whelming tide.
So here’s what I’m doing to keep myself engaged in things beyond the walls of campus, my email inbox, and my stack of unfinished obligations for others.
Thing the First
I was absolutely thrilled to be included (along with my buddy R. Scott Moore) in the Panayotis Panayides and Ine Jacobs volume, Cyprus in the Long Late Antiquity: History and Archaeology Between Six and Eighth Centuries (2022). This volume was one of those books that came from a conference held a few years ago in the UK, and I have to admit that I typically don’t have much in the way of expectations for these kinds of books.
This book is an exception, though. I’ve been reading around in it over the last week or so, checking out a chapter here and there when I find the time, and I’ve come away thoroughly impressed with both the quality of research that went into these papers and their scope. For example, Pamela Armstrong and Guy Sander’s paper on “Kourion in the Long Late Antiquity: a reassessment” fundamentally re-dated the later phases at this site and showed how their new chronology of well-known Late Roman fine wares will have an impact on our understanding of these centuries. Panayiotis Panayides chapter “Cypriot cities at the end of Antiquity,” pulls together the evidence for Salamis, Nea Paphos, Amathus, and Kourion to argue that the oft-assumed argument for these cities’ decline in the 7th century was, in fact, far more complex. Jody Gordon’s concluding essay, “The ‘fuzzy’ world of Cypriot Long Late Antiquity: continuity and disruption betwixt the global and local,” offers a blueprint for new ways of thinking about these centuries.
This is just scratching the surface of this rich volume. I haven’t had time to read pieces by Luca Zavagno, Marcus Rautman, Athanasios K. Vionis, Olga Karagiorgou, Georgios Deligiannakis, Evangelos Chrysos, and Young Richard Kim!
Thing the Second
I’ve been really enjoying the gaggle of articles scheduled to appear in the next issue of the International Journal of Historical Archaeology but now available as “online first” articles from the journal. These pieces are part of an issue coedited by Attila Dézsi and LouAnn Wurst on the theme of “Theorizing Capitalism’s Cracks.” Like the volume on Cyprus in the long late antiquity, I’ve not had time to read everything in this forthcoming issue, but what I’ve read seems pretty great.
Michael Roller’s piece, ““The Song of Love”: An Archaeology of Radio History and Surveillance Capitalism” had me at vacuum tubes, but deftly weaves together archaeological evidence, census data, and history of the radio to argue for its role in creating “machinic consumerism” of the interwar decades and anticipating contemporary surveillance capitalism of the internet age. He also argued that radio had subversive potential as well. The distribution of radio sets in his well-know study site of the coal mining towns of Lattimer, Pennsylvania suggest that immigrant groups listened to the radio collectively rather than as nuclear families in their own homes. More than that, Roller goes on to argue that the emergence f pirate radio stations in the US (and abroad) demonstrates something inherently democratic about this medium. I’m doing this typically dense, nuanced, and thoughtful article a disservice by my description here. If you can check it out.
There are a few more intriguing pieces in this issue. Eric Drake’s “Envisioning Logging Camps as Sites of Social Antagonism in Capitalism: An Anishinaabe Example from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan” offers a window into Native American life in a Michigan logging camp and show how forms of Native American anticapitalism emerged even in a landscape increasing defined by capitalist extraction. Aaron Howe’s article, “The City and the City: Tent Camps and Luxury Development in the NoMA Business Improvement District (BID) in Washington, D.C.” makes an uncited reference to China Mieville’s novel The City and The City and then presents some of his dissertation research on a homeless encampment in Washington, DC. Rachael Kiddey’s “We Are Displaced, But We Are More Than That: Using Anarchist Principles to Materialize Capitalism’s Cracks at Sites of Contemporary Forced Displacement in Europe,” which I’ve just started reading does what it says on the box!
Needless to say, I’ll have to steady my hand as I make revisions on my book chapters not to add references to this recent flock of critical and incisive articles.
Thing the Third
Finally, I’m starting to get excited about a project that started last spring as part of my first effort to teach a graduate seminar in English. Titled, Campus Building, it is a thoughtful and engaged effort to document Merrifield Hall on the University of North Dakota’s campus in the months before it undergoes radical renovations. The layout is done. The content is done. And the volume is almost ready to go to press.
I can’t wait to share the book and the story behind it with folks here on the ole blog. It is a more than worthy step beyond what I attempted to do with the Wesley College Documentation Project.