"So, have you tried…?": Is It REALLY About Science... Or Is It About Authority?

Author(s): Eric Larsen

Year: 2018


Some archaeologists and other preservationists perceive a growing hostility in conversations about cultural heritage issues. At times it feels as though people are questioning the very foundations of archaeological work. Other times, it seems as though people just think you need to apply the technique they recently saw used on TV or the web (a la the "CSI Effect"). The implications can leave the archaeologists feeling as though the public don’t believe we know what we are doing or that they are otherwise belittling the work we do. The questions/confrontations can be quite maddening – along the lines of answering the multiple "found any gold yet?" inquiries that come up at public sites (I share with fellow archaeologists that this utterance is really a hackneyed expression of interest by the visitor). Is there something else behind the threat that many are experiencing? May we being seeing the results of a changed environment where visitors increasingly feel empowered to question the "authority" of the archaeologists? Confronting skepticism or parrying suggestions that imply we don’t know what we are doing can be difficult. This presentation will consider re-framing our responses toward further engaging interested visitors and potential supporters.

Cite this Record

"So, have you tried…?": Is It REALLY About Science... Or Is It About Authority?. Eric Larsen. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443533)

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Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21579