13 November 2010

Moving to Bologna

Apologies for the radio silence from Archaeopop over the last couple weeks. I've been in the throes of moving to Bologna, Italy over the last month or so. Moving anywhere new has its unexpected, time-consuming surprises, especially in countries with a complex bureaucracy. (Yesterday I went to something called the 'Scientific Police' to give them my fingerprints.)

Some of you might be interested in what brought me here. I found a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Management here, working with a small group of faculty and students who are interested in the management of museums and cultural heritage. This summer we started a research project in Turkey, where we'll try to understand the connections between public sector reform (outsourcing, privatization), the local traditions of education and training, and how museums and archaeological sites are operated.

Thinking about the role of government in 'producing' archaeology has been really interesting - it was not a part of my training at all but it explains a lot of peculiar things that people find frustrating when they get to their fieldwork. I have a suspicion where people dig in Turkey (and other countries) is influenced more than we'd like to think by bureaucratic requirements, and by what's going on in the government at a given moment. More evidence that the archaeological record, for everything it tells us about the past, is given its shape by the present.

Being in a management department is an amusing culture shock for all concerned - when I told them I'm an archaeologist several people got this amazing facial expression that was like 'that's cool' and 'whut?' and 'perhaps you are lost, can I help you?' mashed up into one facial expression. Drop whatever humanist stereotypes you might have about business people though, it's a very interesting and very nice group of people.

p.s. Obviously living in Italy has some benefits in terms of archaeopop-iness, since it's basically a giant museum that everyone pretends is a country. I'll be sharing as much as I find the time for!

p.p.s. Bring on the sliced meat jokes. I never get tired of them.


  1. Congrats Dan on your new job! Local government bureaucracy is certainly a huge factor, but don't forget granting agencies as well that "produce" the archaeology we deal with today. What projects get funded (or don't) is a huge influence on how our field is shaped.

    As someone who has also just embarked on a new job in cultural heritage management, it will be interesting to compare "blog notes" with you.

  2. I'd love to compare notes. Are you still in the East Bay? I'll be in Oakland over the holidays.