VIRTUAL SEMINAR: The Second Shift in Archaeological Fieldwork? Invisible Labour of Local Archaeologists as Fixers to Foreign Projects

04 November 2021 16:00 to 17:30 | Online

The seminar will be held via Zoom, please register for details, thank you.

An Anatolian Studies Virtual Seminar with Yağmur Heffron (University College London).

Thursday 4th November 2021 | 16:00-17:30 (London UTC+0) | 19:00-20:30 (Ankara UTC+3) | Online

Archaeological excavations in the Middle East typically rely on hiring local labour. Histories of managing this labour are increasingly bringing the practices of early excavators under scrutiny. In this paper, I consider a different category of local archaeological labour, particularly common in Turkey, which is performed by trained archaeologists or archaeology students in training. In addition to their ordinary tasks as team members, local archaeologists and/or students routinely act as interpreters and intermediaries helping foreign projects run effectively in an unfamiliar cultural landscape. The service they provide is vital yet seldom recognised as a job in its own right, and often uncompensated despite the considerable mental load and time deficit it generates. Where local archaeologists are regularly called upon to facilitate the research and training needs of their non-local counterparts, pre-existing inequalities between the two groups are amplified. In order to better understand the dynamics involved, I propose borrowing the term “fixer” from journalism, where we find a comparable relationship between local and foreign colleagues. In the absence of such a term in archaeology, the assistance required from local archaeologists to help transcend cultural and linguistic barriers becomes additional, uncompensated labour. Here, I propose borrowing yet more terms, this time from feminism, to account for the considerable “double burden” of local archaeologists as they regularly undertake a “second shift” on top of their professional duties. Looking outside archaeology for key concepts to illustrate implicit imbalances in workload will be a useful first step towards a structured examination of labour relationships between local and non-local archaeologists working on foreign projects in Turkey.

Dr Yağmur Heffron obtained her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2011 and held an Anniversary Research Fellowship at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, prior to taking up a lectureship in the History of the Ancient Middle East at UCL in 2015. Her research focuses on the religious history of Anatolia in the early second millennium B.C., particularly on issues of hybridity in cult practices as evidenced in texts and material culture. Her research interests also include recent histories of archaeological interpretation and contemporary labour relations in archaeological fieldwork in Turkey.

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