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HARN WELCOMES NEW MEMBERS

December 13, 2017

OUR NETWORK IS GROWING AND WE HAVE A NEW MEMBER TO WELCOME:

Denis Hakszer

denis.hakszer@gmail.com

Institute of Classical Archaeology, Charles University, Prague

In my research, I am primarily interested in applying network theory in archaeology. I am also interested in the histories of archaeology in the area of Dodecanese and Caria.

Welcome, Denis, and many thanks for joining our community!

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Update on the call for papers for – Symposium Shadows illuminated: invisibilities of science and its (dis)unities

December 11, 2017

European Society for the History of Science (ESHS) Congress

London, 14th – 17th September, 2018

http://eshs2018.uk/

Paper proposal (max. 500 words) to ana.c.martins@zonmail.pt  before 14th December 2017

Ana Cristina Martins, Post-Ph.D. Fellowship

(Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia / Instituto de História Contemporânea-CEFCi-UÉ-Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas-Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal) ana.c.martins@zonmail.pt

Eulália Pérez Sedeño, Research Professor

(Instituto de Filosofía-Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, Spain) eulalia.psedeno@cchs.csic.es

Symposium

Shadows illuminated: invisibilities of science and its (dis)unities

As is commonly the case in other historical fields, in the history of science the invisibility of actors, spaces and projects in science remains an ongoing problematic. A particular challenge is due to the types of sources essential to uncover and retrieve the names and activities that for one reason or another have been forgotten, ignored or kept away by and from historiography. Nonetheless, some progress has been made in overcoming this challenge. For instance, there is a considerable number of interdisciplinary studies published in recent years that explore the relationship between gender and science, making visible those subjects previously rendered invisible to history.

There are, however, other invisibilities in the history of science that remain neglected. These invisibilities include field and laboratory assistants and collectors, museum staff, journalists, writers, tourist guides, patrons, publishers of science (non scientists) and private institutions, together with scientific authors that remain obfuscated within or completely absent from bibliographic references and endnotes.

Rediscovering scientific actors (individual and collective; public and private), theories and projects, and understanding the reasons for their occultation, demand a permanent and innovative interdisciplinary and comparative research endeavor. This is why, using different kinds of primary and secondary sources; combining methods used by different social sciences, such as the history of science, and gender studies; applying actor network theory and social network analysis; and uniting apparent disunities, we will identify, reveal and contextualize names, theories, practices and projects belonging to different humans and natural sciences, between late 19th century until more recently.

Engaging comparative, cross-disciplinary and complementary examinations of the matter, this session will capture, for the first time, the state of the art of this fascinating, demanding and inspiring research field within the history of science, whilst making recent research results on this topic readily comprehensible to a wider public. We propose to establish a new – holistic and integrated – way of looking into the past: a new way of doing (in this case) history of science, so as to illuminate some of its persistent shadows.

Many little Christmas trees, or how I came to lose a pop up exhibition

December 11, 2017

Life in this turret of HARN towers is continuing to be stressful. The turret itself has now joined in the game of ‘see who sends Julia over the edge from shouty-sweary-woman to sitting-rocking-in-a-corner-woman’. We have a smell in the kitchen, it is not a good smell, it is not a Christmas cake baking, mulled wine bubbling, all things festive smell, no, it is a sewerage smell. This is very bad. The source of the smell is perplexing us (and our neighbour who also has the smell) and, in the course of investigating we’ve discovered there are puddles under our house. Why there are puddles under our house has now been added to the list of things we need to get sorted out, quickly and, I suspect, expensively. The puddles are not related to the smell, nor are they related to all the pipes under the house, they appear to be inexplicable – but undoubtedly costly – puddles. The future may well include blog posts about the joy of ripping out kitchen cupboards, digging up a concrete floor and pumping out the underneath of our house. Or there may be blog silence as I sit in a corner weeping and rocking. It could go either way but be warned there’s likely to be even less history of archaeology on here than there has recently.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. No, into that mix we can add self-inflicted insanity and incompetence, some mine, some not. First – the self inflicted insanity, or many, many little Christmas trees. How many? Actually, not that many, it just began to feel like my life was an endless production line of green felt triangles

20171206_103828

And why was I making many little Christmas trees? The school Christmas Fair – all the HARN members who are parents are now nodding wisely, the rest of you are blissfully unaware of the insanity that is the school fair and how you get talked into/talk yourself into doing way more than you bargained for. In retrospect, despite having approximately no time at all for sewing fiddly bits of felt, I got off lightly. During the fair itself I just sold things to people, Rick had a different role

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Ho, ho, ho.

The incompetence, as you may have guessed, was completely failing to find a pop up exhibition. This pop up exhibition about Preston in the First World War. I’m blaming my utter inability to find it on the green felt Christmas trees – no, I’m not sure the connection works either but given I’ve been dreaming about cutting, sewing, stuffing and finishing little triangles of green felt I think it’s safe to say the wool fumes had got into my brain. Whatever the cause, by the time I caught up with the pop up event it it had popped off from the Student’s Union and never seemed to get as far as Livesey House despite being advertised as relocating there. This was, for me, an enormous disappointment. Less so for the 11 year old who’d decided to come with me and had to suffer the embarrassment of his mother actually talking to people, in public. And the further embarrassment of being with a mother who was frankly admitting to being lost and incompetent, oh the shame! On the up side, while we were wandering around the Union looking for the exhibition we coincided with a media conference lunch and the organisers took pity on us and fed him pizza. When I went back during the week to try and find the damn thing in Livesey no-one offered me anything to eat, the pop up exhibition was nowhere to be seen, no-one seemed to know anything about it and I’m still waiting for the organisers to get back to me. I had high hopes of blogging about the exhibition because it sounded fascinating and I’m sure I could have found a history of archaeology angle without contorting myself too much.

If you are interested then check out these resources  http://www.lancashireatwar.co.uk/preston-station/4591671890

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01x3g74

https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/community/476 and https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/profile/485

http://www.prestonremembers.org.uk/

and there’s the war memorial on the stairs of the Harris Museum – which is always sobering after we’ve made ourselves giddy visiting Horace

And on that archaeological note I shall leave you – I hope you have a productive week, I’m just hoping nothing else goes wrong.

Julia

 

CfP – Symposium Shadows illuminated: invisibilities of science and its (dis)unities

December 10, 2017

HARN member, Ana Cristina Martins, has been in touch to announce this symposium. Please note the deadline for proposals is the 14th of December:

Ana Cristina Martins, Post-Ph.D. Fellowship

(Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia / Instituto de História Contemporânea-CEFCi-UÉ-Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas-Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal)

ana.c.martins@zonmail.pt

Eulália Pérez Sedeño, Research Professor

(Instituto de Filosofía-Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, Spain)

eulalia.psedeno@cchs.csic.es

Symposium – standard panel

Shadows illuminated: invisibilities of science and its (dis)unities

As is commonly the case in other historical fields, in the history of science the invisibility of actors, spaces and projects in science remains an ongoing problematic. A particular challenge is due to the types of sources essential to uncover and retrieve the names and activities that for one reason or another have been forgotten, ignored or kept away by and from historiography. Nonetheless, some progress has been made in overcoming this challenge. For instance, there is a considerable number of interdisciplinary studies published in recent years that explore the relationship between gender and science, making visible those subjects previously rendered invisible to history.

There are, however, other invisibilities in the history of science that remain neglected. These invisibilities include field and laboratory assistants and collectors, museum staff, journalists, writers, tourist guides, patrons, publishers of science (non scientists) and private institutions, together with scientific authors that remain obfuscated within or completely absent from bibliographic references and endnotes.

Rediscovering scientific actors (individual and collective; public and private), theories and projects, and understanding the reasons for their occultation, demand a permanent and innovative interdisciplinary and comparative research endeavor. This is why, using different kinds of primary and secondary sources; combining methods used by different social sciences, such as the history of science, and gender studies; applying actor network theory and social network analysis; and uniting apparent disunities, we will identify, reveal and contextualize names, theories, practices and projects belonging to different humans and natural sciences, between late 19th century until more recently.

Engaging comparative, cross-disciplinary and complementary examinations of the matter, this session will capture, for the first time, the state of the art of this fascinating, demanding and inspiring research field within the history of science, whilst making recent research results on this topic readily comprehensible to a wider public. We propose to establish a new – holistic and integrated – way of looking into the past: a new way of doing (in this case) history of science, so as to illuminate some of its persistent shadows.

HARN WELCOMES NEW MEMBERS

December 10, 2017

OUR NETWORK IS GROWING AND WE HAVE A NEW MEMBER TO WELCOME:

Sébastien Plutniak

sebastien.plutniak@ehess.fr

Ecole Française de Rome, History and Social Sciences Department

Sébastien Plutniak is a sociologist of science and a prehistoric archaeologist. His interests are focused on the history and sociology of archaeology in the 20th century. In his PhD thesis, he scrutinized the relationships between archaeologists, and mathematicians and computer scientists. He developed a socio-historical approach using scientometric, sequence analysis, and social network methods, that he applied to the cases of research groups from France, Spain and Italy.

He is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the École française de Rome. Beside his work in social studies of science, Sébastien Plutniak is also a field archaeologist, graduated from the EHESS, operating in South East Asia, with a specialization in pottery analysis.

More info:
http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6674-3806
https://cv.archives-ouvertes.fr/sebastien-plutniak

Welcome, Sébastien, and many thanks for joining our community!

Ceci n’est pas une critique de livre

December 1, 2017

Which I think means ‘this is not a book reviewer’ rather than ‘a book review’ but I was having a Magritte moment, as you do

Sadly, this isn’t a post about surrealism, it’s a post about a very dull book. Yes, finally, after saying I’d nearly finished it back in April, I have now finished Simon Thurley’s Men from the Ministry: How Britain saved its heritage! As long as you understand ‘finished’ to mean ‘got to the point where I could stand it no longer and if you gave me the option of being poked in the eye (with a sharp stick) or read the damn thing to the end I’d have gladly chosen the stick’. I think I’ve said before that no matter how bad a book is I always try to remember that the longest thing I’ve ever written is a PhD thesis so anyone who manages to write a book and see it through editing and publication is worthy of respect. Even if the book is dull. And, this book is dull. Thurley is a historian who was Chief Executive of English Heritage from 2002 to 2015 so you might expect him to produce a fascinating book given he must have had unprecedented access to the archives of this organisation. If so your expectations would be dashed.

It’s presented as a history of how various British government departments came to be in charge of various ancient and not so ancient monuments  ‘Men from the Ministry sets all this activity, for the first time, in its political, economic and cultural contexts, painting a picture of a country traumatized by war, fearful of losing what was left of its history, and a government that actively set out to protect them‘ but it actually says very little. It is dull, occasionally inaccurate, lacking in detail and left me wondering why it had been written, who’s the intended audience for this book?

So, insults aside, what’s the problem with it? The detail! I know, I just said it lacked detail and now I’m complaining about too much but I want detail about the work carried out by the Ministry of Works, not excruciating detail of exactly how much everything cost. And, I do mean everything. Every guidebook, every grant, how much the lawnmowers cost, or the price of the turnstile barriers, lavatories and exit gates cost at Hampton Court (£700 in 1952 if you’re interested). But not wages, from the First Commissioners of Works to the labourers Thurley doesn’t tell us what they were paid. Just the cost of acquiring each site and presenting it to the public. And, we learn so little of the people involved, even the top chaps (and they were all chaps although Thurley doesn’t mention this) are hardly discussed – Sir Lionel Earle, Permanent Secretary to the Office of Works from 1912, is described as ‘suave, well-connected and deeply cultured’ (85) and he liked art but there’s little more said than that and Earle was in charge for 21 years.

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Lionel Earle – unmistakably suave Sir Lionel Earle by Sir (John) Benjamin Stone platinum print, 20 July 1909 NPG x44665 © National Portrait Gallery, London

I’d vaguely hoped to find out more about Brian O’Neil who was Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments some time after 1945, I’m not sure when because Thurley doesn’t tell us that, but presumably before 1949 when O’Neil drew up a list of target sites for the ministry to collect – Thurley does tell us that. He also includes this undated photograph of O’Neil

SKMBT_C554e17112013070 (3)

Not so suave.

 

Note the caption that tells us O’Neil ‘developed investigative archaeology in the Ancient Monuments Department’*. How did O’Neil develop investigative archaeology? No idea. Doesn’t say, or if it does I missed it amongst the memos about how much it cost to keep the lawns tidy. When we are told anything the references are vague, O’Neil again, Thurley says he was “Described as ‘a forceful character and tireless worker'” – by whom? There’s an endnote associated with the paragraph but I have no idea if it relates to this quote or something else entirely. 

I get the feeling Thurley doesn’t know very much about archaeology and nothing about the history of archaeology, discussing the renovations of Rievaulx Abbey he says: Beginning in 1919, clearance was organised on a grid system so that the location of significant objects could be plotted in three dimensions. The work may have been methodical but it was not archaeological. The clearance was carried out by a team of unskilled workers, under a foreman, not an archaeologist, and by present standards this entailed a loss of evidence for the post-dissolution history of the site. This is, of course, a modern judgement, for at the time nobody was really interested in the later history of buildings (Thurley 2013:140).

Now, leaving aside the question of why include a judgement while admitting it was irrelevant to the work, this was how most British excavations were done before the 1920s. And when Thurley does discuss archaeology he just repeats the myths – he, inevitably, calls Pitt Rivers the ‘father of British field-archaeology’ but doesn’t discuss this title or how Pitt Rivers was also largely absent from his own excavations. It’s just unreflexive and ahistorical (unhistorical? Is there a word or should I just go with not historical?). And, there’s several similar incidences. Talking about the passing of the Ancient Monuments Protection Act in 1882 Thurley does explain it took a long time to enact, some form of protection had been talked about since at least 1868 when First Commissioner of Works, Austen Henry Layard  – yes, that one – commissioned 38 fellows from the Society of Antiquaries of London to draw up a report of endangered sites. Thurley mentions Layard’s wealth and his earlier career as an adventurer but he says Layard became ‘an accomplished archaeologist’ (31) which is extremely debatable and doesn’t say that it was the export and sale of Nimrud’s treasures that was the basis of Layard’s wealth. Perhaps he expects us to draw these conclusions? But, this is a book about the protection of sites and monuments, and this was a man who had ransacked Iraq’s sites and monuments for monetary gain who was now attempting to protect Britain’s heritage. You’d think some mention of the irony would be appropriate?

AN01285551_001_l

Print from a periodical featuring a view of the new display of Late Assyrian sculptures discovered by Layard at Nineveh, entitled “The Nineveh Room, at the British Museum” and dated 1853; ‘The Illustrated London News’ (no. 614, vol. XXII, p. 225). Etchin © The Trustees of the British Museum

And, occasionally, Thurley is just plain wrong, he says ‘From 1920 investigative archaeology developed in the Office of Works under the leadership of Jocelyn Bushe-Fox. He had learnt his trade under Sir Mortimer Wheeler at Wroxeter’ (107-8). Think he means the other way about, even that terrible egotist Wheeler acknowledged his excavation debt to Bushe-Fox in Still Digging. Bushe-Fox trained with Petrie and Gerald Wainwright in Egypt. Of itself it’s just a throwaway mistake but then you start to wonder what else might be wrong, is any of this information reliable?

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Bushe-Fox’s excavation report from 1912, the year before Wheeler joined the team

And, is any of it really of use? Much of what Thurley says about the various sites taken into ministry care can be found elsewhere – Kit’s Coty House and Little Kit’s Coty House were the first monuments to be taken into state care, but this information can be found here on the English Heritage web pages. Admittedly English Heritage don’t mention that in 1906 a Cambridge undergraduate fell from the capstone of Kit’s Coty House and was impaled on the spikes of the ‘strong iron fence’ Pitt Rivers had insisted should be erected to prevent vandalism, but then English Heritage, unlike Thurley, don’t mention that the fence cost £100 and I can live without that information**.

Kitscoty,_Blue_Bell_Hill

Kit’s Coty House – with fence. By Adamsan at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14775725

Rosemary Hill reviewed Men from the Ministry in The Telegraph saying, Thurley’s ‘aim is to do justice to the civil servants and politicians who struggled valiantly against war, red tape and criticism to procure 880 monuments for the nation‘. While Bernard Porter in The Guardian said:

Simon Thurley’s main object is to show that in fact the old department was working pretty well before it was transformed, thank you, and that we owe the preservation and restoration of most of our most beloved historical places to it. One could infer from this a more general conclusion: that the state can be at least as efficient a provider of services to the nation as the private or semi-private sector. “Governments and civil servants,” he writes, “rarely get the credit for anything they do.” This book seeks to set the record straight for this bunch of them, at least.

And, largely Thurley does do this, but who is going to read through all the rest of the book to get that message? A historian of British archaeology would undoubtedly find the explanation of all the titles such as First Commissioner etc and how the various offices changed from Ministry of Woods and Forests to Works and Building, Works and Planning, Works, Public Buildings and Works and so on very useful, but this is summarised in a simple diagram at the start of the book. There’s very little else here that’s of use and most of the information can be found, more easily, elsewhere. So, who is this book for? I’m genuinely struggling to come up with anyone and it is a real shame, because there is an interesting story to be told here and yet the person who must have had unprecedented access to those tales has produced something dull and lifeless that will undoubtedly turn up on discounted and remaindered book lists.

Bah.

So, not a review but a string of complaints.

I will try and be more cheerful next week. In the meantime have a super weekend.

Julia

 

*It also says ‘Reproduced by permission of English Heritage’ – I don’t have permission to reproduce it and I don’t care! Bite me English Heritage!

(I’m going to look really silly if they do sue HARN for copyright infringement, or indeed if they do bite me)

**What I do want to know was whether the student was fatally impaled or just a bit impaled – can you be ‘a bit’ impaled?

How?

November 27, 2017

087d7f0069385dd543178c4c2fca3430--blue-butterfly-butterfly-wings

We’ve already established that I’m easily distracted, so let’s start with a digression – How, anyone else remember that? I realise you’d have to be British and of a certain age to have a chance of recalling it. I remember it with great fondness, I assumed it was because of the limited TV entertainment possibilities of 70s Britain – only three TV channels (that’s right kids, 3!), no daytime broadcasting (or was that just on the BBC?) children’s programmes only took up about 2 hours of the daily schedule and despite this paucity of choice in our house screen time was limited to something like an hour a day and none when the cricket was being broadcast, then add in my parents’ refusal to let us watch commercial television so any watching of ITV had an added frisson and had to be done while they were out – you could guarantee that me and my sisters would have fond memories of watching anything. However, I’ve just watched a snippet on how they get eggs to run continuously through the inside of those weird long pies you get on supermarket deli counters and been completely charmed. It’s a shambles! An informative shambles! And, look Jack Hargreaves – the chap with the beard – has a pipe, a pipe! Smoking! On television. Ah, nostalgia! If you want to know more (look, you might do, it can’t just be me who’s so easily entertained, surely?) then there’s whole episodes here and here‘s a bit of a programme explaining how Jack Hargreaves came up with the idea.

Where was I? Asking how? How what? How do other people manage? You may have noticed an eerie silence on the blog since the 9th of November, the Twitter feed’s been a bit more lively, but here there’s been nothing, zero, zip, zilch, nada. Dropped the ball there, as I believe they say in management – do they? and does anyone really say ‘blue sky thinking’? Again TV is my reference point for all understanding of management, here Drop the Dead Donkey and W1A, rather than children’s factual programmes (this post appears to be degenerating into a list of TV programmes none of which have anything to do with history, I think I may have my answer to how other people manage – they stay focussed). However, onward and upward, because it is a genuine question. How do you all manage with work, children, aged parents, cats, chickens, misbehaving appliances, sickness and school all demanding equal amounts of attention and only 24 hours in every day? Since September I’ve felt like I’m juggling several balls (badly) and someone keeps chucking random objects into the mix. Given I am hopelessly uncoordinated things get dropped and for the last couple of weeks it’s been the blog. I think things are settling down again – but I thought that last week and then we were all ill, so who knows? – and I do have posts for you, a book review and a review of an exhibition so with a fair wind and a following sea blogging will resume this week and may even have something to do with some aspect of the history of archaeology.

Fingers crossed

Julia