Listen to Me! Lobbying for Archaeology

Paper presented by Kenneth Aitchison at EAA Barcelona 2018 in session s384, The Self-Organization of Archaeologists in Europe: Roles and Needs, Responsibilities and Legitimacy, Thursday 6th September 2018.

Full paper PowerPoint, with text included as Notes


Listen To Me! lobbying for archaeology

Who are the archaeologists that think they have influence over politicians?

Do other archaeologists agree that these are the most influential people, and that these are the most appropriate individuals to be the sector’s “influencers”?

When it comes to archaeology, what do politicians think is important? (and remember – a politician thinking archaeology is ‘interesting’ is not the same as them thinking it is ‘important’).

The answers to these questions vary from country to country, and are not the same at the European level as they are at national, regional or local levels.

The politicians need something they can sell to the voters that will re-elect them, not something that cannot be balanced against all of society’s other concerns. And this is often forgotten by archaeologists, who might fall into the trap of focussing on the technicalities of past human lives, rather than the ongoing needs of those in the present and future.

Does this all mean that archaeology is lost in an introspective maze, or are there ways to make a difference to political decisions?

This paper will review the different methodological approaches used to try to get politicians’ attention – from open ‘letters’ in the world of social media, to public campaigns, to direct, technical and face-to-face lobbying – thinking about how valuable or effective these approaches are or are not.

And it will review the roles that can be played by different “actors on the stage” – by looking at the professional roles in archaeology that politicians think are important, it will think about differences between the ways that professional archaeology has been structured by the wider cultural norms across Europe and why this then affects the potential for different groups to influence political decision making – and how valuable or effective these groups’ interventions might be.

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