UK > Iceland #worldinterview #12

UK > Iceland

Interviewee: Gísli Pálsson

What drew you to archaeology and what path did you follow in your archaeological career?

I came to archaeology rather late. After spending years working for a civil engineering firm on construction projects, I was gripped with an irresistible urge to tear things down. I still bear the signs of those early years, as I’ve found myself specializing in fairly technological and computational ways – GIS, survey, archaeoinformatics.

What difficulties do you think students face in pursuing a career in archaeology?

One of the most significant decision is whether to choose a well-established (but probably densely populated) subfield, which may lead to more job security in the long run if they get their foot in a door somewhere, or to go for an emerging subfield (or a non-existent subfield), which will probably give them the ability to impact the discipline more radically, while being a risky proposition job-wise, particularly in academia.

Do you think academic departments need to demonstrate ‘relevance’ to public audiences – if so what are the challenges?

I think the core practices of archaeology are very relevant to public audiences, but I also think archaeology has much more to offer beyond those practices. In my experience, the public are very open to creative archaeologies and more experimental applications of archaeological practices, but the issue is that getting funding for such practices seems much more difficult than getting funding for projects in line with how archaeology ought to be practiced. So the challenge, to me, lies in convincing those with the fingers on the purse strings that archaeology needs more leeway for experimentation, but that is not going to happen when most of the people in our discipline are perpetually suspended on a budgetary knife’s edge.

How do you see digital technology contributing to the interpretation and research agendas for archaeologists and anthropologists in the future?

Digital technology has contributed to archaeological interpretation for as long as digital technology has been around in the humanities. As far as I’m concerned, archaeology has always been at the forefront of adopting digital technologies in the context of the humanities and historical disciplines, and it will continue to do so.

About Gísli:

Archaeologist, into landscape, data, networks, creative sides to the profession, as well as some other things.

last paper:

Questions from Raksha Dave in the UK.

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