University of Cenral Lancashire

Not Just an Archaeologist

I am an archaeologist.

Right now I am also working toward a PhD at the  University of Cenral Lancashire (UCLAN) in Preston, United Kingdom. My subject area is the historical archaeology of South Central California, and I am looking at how people create their sense of identity and attachment to place through the process of belonging. This means I am theorizing on what an Archaeology of Belonging is and can do particularly in colonialism.

Overview of Pueblo San Emigdio toward the San Emigdio Hills in Kern County California.

Originally my husband (who is also an archaeologist) and I came to the UK from the United States for a one year MSc by Research degree. We wanted to get a higher degree because we wanted to have a family at some time in the future. At the time we made the choice of coming to UCLAN, we were working in the field for a CRM company in California. Although we were not completely unhappy, it was time for a change. We had been field technicians for about five years, had not had a home in two as we were in near constant ten day rotations. When not working we would visit and stay with family. While working our house became the contents of two large blue totes and a red roller suitcase of books placed in exactly the same way in every hotel room we lived in. Life was good (we even had annual passes to Disneyland and would work a full day and have dinner and a ride at night) but we wanted to one day have a family as well. So we finally accepted the invitation from a colleague to study at the university he worked for. Equating more education with a more stable position in archaeology.

Why the background story? It’s important, as on the 29th of June during the Day of Archaeology, archaeology was but one aspect of my identity (a theme in my PhD).

Almost half way through the MSc and right before I was to start my field work last year, we discovered our future dreams of a family were to happen a whole lot sooner. I gave birth to my son in November, a couple of weeks after I graduated from my Masters. In January I started the PhD.

My Day of Archaeology consisted of:

General email round-up from the school email system to see if I have succeeded through Progression and Registration for my degree with the university. (Can’t forget about Facebook as a tool to keep in touch with family, friends, and old colleagues.)

Taking my son to Baby Club at the local Sure Start Centre. See how I include in my day attendance of a social group event, but have completely completely disregarded the countless minutes of my domestic work as a mother including cooking, cleaning, baby care (and those loads of nappies, expressing breast milk, and new baby solids which I made not bought). Maybe as archaeologist we fail to think and look at the mundane as we see it as too everyday, but it is the everyday rituals that show my identity in the archaeological record. Just something to think about, as I think about it more and more every day. What are the mundane things we miss as archaeologist that are / were actually so important to peoples in the past?

While my son takes naps in the afternoon I TRY and read for my literature review. Today it was Vicki Bell’s edited volume Performativity and Belonging. I am particularly inspired by Anne-Marie Fortier’s article “Re-Membering Places and the Performance of Belonging(s).”


The biggest bit of archaeology today was writing an abstract to present an oral presentation at the Theoretical Archaeological Group (TAG) for the 2012 Liverpool conference, on my work on developing an Archaeology of Belonging. It will be the first major conference in which I will be an oral presenter. I am a mix of excited and very nervous.

As I said: I am an archaeologist. But I am also a PhD researcher, a wife, and a mother.