Bermudian archaeologist Dr. Cathie Draycott, a lecturer in the Department of Archaeology at Durham University in the UK, has urged locals to participate in an online survey designed to find out about experiences of and attitudes to archaeology.
The survey, called ‘Archaeological Horizons: a survey of affinities with archaeology’, asks if archaeology is on people’s horizons as a potential career choice or as a method of finding out about aspects of the past.
“The survey will be open until November 20th,” said Draycott. She explained that it forms a preliminary step in further research, in which Bermuda has a critical role.
“The Bermuda survey is a pilot survey. By participating in it Bermudians will not only be able to contribute their opinions in a way which will illuminate the role and perception of archaeology locally, but will also play a role in the development of this research on a larger scale,” said Dr. Draycott, who hopes that the survey will be rolled out in other countries. One of the questions asks participants about their recommendations to improve the survey for further use.
“The idea for the survey came about as a result of thinking about the reasons behind a lack of diversity, especially racial and ethnic diversity, in the field of archaeology,” said Dr. Draycott, who presented on that topic in September as a part of ThinkFest 2019.
“I looked through various publications for research already conducted on reasons for this. This has mostly been conducted in the field of heritage and museums, and answers tended to be sought from focus groups, the participants of which are often already involved in the heritage societies running the research.
“Many of these groups cited good reasons why heritage sites and museums may not interest diverse visitor groups, but they were not tailored to archaeology as a discipline,” explained Dr Draycott. “I couldn’t find any published data on surveys that asked people how they feel about archaeology.
“I can think of a number of reasons that archaeology may not be accessible or attractive to people, but the point is not for me to supply hypothetical answers, but to ask and listen.”
Dr Draycott said she had already learned a lot from people who responded to her in person when she was on island for ThinkFest in September, and looked forward to learning more through the online survey.
“Provisionally, I learned that economics may be less important than perceptions about the ethics of archaeology, which may be compounded by the fact that its vocational skills set means that engaging outside of existing establishment structures is difficult, if not impossible,” she said.
Responses to the survey, called important and long-overdue by archaeology and heritage professionals in the UK and USA, will provide extremely useful information about how people perceive archaeology, and help to pinpoint areas that the discipline needs to address if its demography is to become more diverse.
The results of the survey are set to be presented at an international conference in London in December, after which a preliminary report will be made publicly available.
The survey is available here until November 20th.
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