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Saw this and thought the forum could do with a little injection of:

Humour and the Individual in Museum and Site Archives: A Workshop

Hilary Orange & Joe Flatman (University College London)

Saturday 26th May 2012

Room 612, UCL Institute of Archaeology, Gordon Square, London

At the 2011 Theoretical Archaeology Group Conference, a number of themes arose from a session on humour and archaeology in relation to museum and site archives:

[a] The retention/loss of personal anecdote in site archives – problems of the loss of the individual voice as site archives are systematically ‘cleaned up’ in a digital format.
The presence of significant bodies of humour and anecdote in historic site archives and what forms these take – the materiality of the formal and informal archive.
[c] The loss of anecdotal detail in HER records, both paper and electronic – instances of the [rare] preservation of humour in such locations.
[d] Informal records – diaries, audio and visual recordings, site songs and communal memories – the ‘site hut’ as a repository for the larger memories of a project and its participants.
[e] The use of humour as metaphor for the individual and method of communication within site and museum interpretation.

Technology, policy and practice are increasingly leading to an air-brushed view of archaeological practice, in which the realities of life in the field and archive alike are removed from final archives and formal publications. Building on the TAG session, this workshop seeks to explore such ‘marginal expressions of individuality – not only because they tell us something about the way projects developed but also because they remind us of what fuels archaeology – togetherness, thirst, lust and dreams’ (Duncan Brown).

We seek papers on these topics that explore the subtleties of humour: how such fragmentary sources identify individuals experiences of practice, and how we deal with both the preservation and continuation of such memories given the subversion of such normative practices in the increasingly homogenized world of ‘professional’ heritage.

300 word proposals for papers of twenty minutes are now being accepted up to [B]Friday 23rd March 2012. [/B]

To submit proposals or ask questions about the workshop please email the organizers: and
[B]We would ask all participants at this FREE event to register online at:, in order to allow us to judge catering requirements.
Bless you Vulpes - well timed - though I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

The use of humour as metaphor for the individual and method of communication within site and museum interpretation -- ah the jolly banter Wink

Wonder if anyone here fancies a pop at this !
I attended the session at TAG and as well as being amusing it was thought provoking - !!
I always thought that most archaeological units thought of the archive as a bit of a joke, fullstop, and the museum curators were the jokers they dumped it onto. This is just plain cynicism, not humour.
...and from several experiences over the years many curators also regard them as really a bit of an inconvenience and to ignored as far as possible ....amazing how many boxes labelled 'iron' I've had occasion to open from museum archives only to find them full of bags of brown powder and pretty pink silica gel.... :0

Someone should do a book of all those archaeological anecdotes down the years, or would we all get arrested or sued? - there used to be a worrying number about me doing the rounds years back, several of which were even true, although hopefully they've died down now that most of the perpetrators have found something more lucrative to do, retired to Thailand or are 6' under, and I'm heading to a respectable dotage....yeah, maybe not Cool
I do hope that you isolated those pink silica gel packs and informed the curator about hazchems in their archive. this serious???:0
If the indicator is cobalt chloride then, if you bathe in it for a year and eat a kilo every day, you might get a wart! Seriously, cobalt chloride is Group 2B listed as possibly carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. You should use orange indicating silica gel, which turns a dark green when damp. Better still, use cobalt free indicator strips - especially if you are using stewart boxes for storing your metals.
Sorry...I meant the workshop.

But a useful reminder to folk nonetheless, Madweasels. I'm happy to say I use both orange silica gel and the indicator strips with stewart tubs; and usually wear protective gloves through out the process too!
LoL! And there I was thinking I had something interesting to say. Smile

I wonder how many other disciplines would conduct such a study. Is there research into the macabre jolly japes of Doctors and nurses? Maybe that helps them to get through the utter grief and ghastliness of what they might have to deal with. Or nuclear physicists side splitting jokes (The bartender says "We don't allow faster than light particles into this bar". A neutrino walks into a bar), which is just them being smart. I don't know. It does smack a bit of archaeological self indulgence to me.
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