As an archaeologist we spend most of our time looking at the past. Recently, I’ve been spending more time looking at ourselves as archaeologists. Who are we, where do we come from and why do so many of them look like me? And it is even more homogenised when I look at those that specialise in digital archaeology. While attending more generalist conferences there are a large proportion of women, this number is reduced at digital archaeology specific conferences. This troubles me and I think it should trouble you.
So like many days recently, I’ve been working on being awake. Awake to my privilege as a white, European and male. Awake to how I can amplify the voices of others and my duty to do so. Awake to my behaviour and how it can keep other people down.
Perhaps you are still wondering what does this have to do with archaeology? Archaeology is a reflection on the past of those who are doing it. If this continues to predominately white, European males then we will fail to be relevant. My questions and research reflect me and even my privilege, many times in ways that I am still working on being awake to.
So today I took a break from my normal digital tasks and plotted a journey I took many times from my hometown Richmond, Virginia to where I went to university in Evansville, Indiana. Using the amazing New York Public Library’s Navigating the Green Book http://publicdomain.nypl.org/greenbook-map/. While I will never fully understand how difficult this trip would have been for an African American during Jim Crow, it is amazing tool for looking at this experience. Finding safe places to eat and sleep would have only been one of the concerns travelling through the south but this tool for visualising this trip and interacting with The Green Book helps me to better understand what this would have been like and how invaluable a tool this guide would have been for African Americans.