The Invisibly Disabled Archaeologist

Author(s): Laura Heath-Stout

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Archaeologies of Health, Wellness, and Ability" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

At an SAA conference, one is not likely to see wheelchair users, American Sign Language interpreters, copies of the program rendered in Braille, or attendees accompanied by personal care assistants. One might think that all archaeologists are nondisabled; after all, we prize fieldwork and physical exertion. Yet, archaeologists with non-apparent disabilities are all around us. I have interviewed 72 archaeologists about their experiences of race, gender, and sexuality, and stories of disability have emerged along the way. Some disabled archaeologists told me about the difficulties of asking for accommodations in an ableist profession. As one graduate student with a mental illness put it, "To come to a panel of people who have your future literally in their hands and say, ‘These are all the ways that I'm incapable,’ is a very humbling experience, and it is one that's hard to recover from in terms of professional ability." Others told of finding ways to shape a career that fit their particular strengths, or of the complexity of passing as nondisabled. First, I consider what these stories tell us about how our discipline privileges some bodies and minds over others. Then, I offer suggestions for building a truly inclusive and accessible archaeology.

Cite this Record

The Invisibly Disabled Archaeologist. Laura Heath-Stout. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450951)


Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22832