Experiencing place: an auto-ethnography on digging and belonging

Author(s): Stephen (Steve) Brown

Year: 2014


At the 16th ICOMOS General Assembly in 2008, the ‘Québec Declaration on the Preservation of Spirit of Place’ was adopted. The declaration called for measures and actions to safeguard and promote the physical and spiritual elements that give meaning, value, and emotion to place. In this presentation I argue that excavation is a heritage practice/process that asserts and re-invigorates spirit of place. The case study is my home in the Sydney suburb of Arncliffe; the method personal and autobiographical. My particular focus is experiencing place through digging six test pits and thence cataloguing 3,600 things. I argue that this project is one of recovering, reassembling and ‘creating’ memory from within a milieu of entangled things (artefacts, spoil, test pits, plants, humans) and, because memory is dynamic and recursive, ‘memory assemblages’ collectively contribute to the construction of place, identity, belonging, and, ultimately, spirit of place.

Cite this Record

Experiencing place: an auto-ethnography on digging and belonging. Stephen (Steve) Brown. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437014)

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Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-47,05