Category Archives: Featured

Labor Heritage at Homestead

The Battle of Homestead marks the historic defeat of the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers (AAISW) by the Carnegie Steel Corporation at the Homestead Steel Works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the time of the strike in 1892, the Carnegie Steel Corporation, owned by Andrew Carnegie, was the world’s largest manufacturing firm, and AAISW was the nation’s strongest union. The Battle of Homestead The Battle began as a lockout on June 28, 1892 (Burgoyne 1979:33). Workers were upset with the sliding scale wage system, in which the selling price of steel determined wages (Demarest Jr. 1999:25. On July 6th 1892, two barges carried 300 Pinkerton Detectives (hired by the Carnegie Steel Corporation) up the Monongahela River to the Homestead Steel Works. Workers and Homestead citizens, including women and children, confronted the boats near the mill’s still standing Pump House, and a battle erupted (Krause 1992:15-16). Workers and Homestead residents took up all matters of defense against the Pinkertons, including a Civil War cannon taken from a nearby park.  Luckily for the workers, the outnumbered Pinkertons surrendered by the end of the day. Many were injured, and two or three Pinkerton men died (Krause 1992:25,34-39, Burgoyne 1979:92) After the worker’s [Read More]

Heritage of Labor Conflict in the United States

Hey there! I’m Maura Bainbridge, PhD Candidate at Binghamton and next up on the MAPA blog.  This month I will be talking about my research, that is – labor heritage in the United States. Many former MAPA blog posts have talked about heritage issues (Hey Ashley! Hi Angela!) but I aim to do so in the context of labor, particularly labor conflicts. Situating Heritage  I’m choosing to engage with heritage, rather than history, because heritage leaves room for personal identity- as people living today pick and choose bits of the past to identify with. (Though constructions of history are a fertile issue for another blog series.) Capitalism, and thus labor relations, are implicated in heritage production as more goods (tokens of memory to place aspects of identity into) are created, and the past is actively bulldozed over, reinforcing the need to remember before it’s too late (Connerton 1989). Laurajane Smith (2006) presents the concept of ‘authorized heritage discourse,’ (AHD) as the official narrative of the past. The AHD focuses on beautiful objects, sites and places.  These must be preserved for future generations “for their ‘education’, and to forge a sense of common identity based on the past.” This discourse commonly [Read More]

Mentoring Session for Careers in Archaeology: Government Archaeology Work

In keeping with my goals of networking to further my career opportunities (see post “Networking for Introverts”), I signed up for the Mentoring Session for Careers in Archaeology for Government Archaeology Work. This is a new session, sponsored by the Queer Archaeology Interest Group and the Committee for Status of Women in Archaeology, during which small groups of graduate students and young professionals were matched up with archaeologists experienced in the subgroup topic – other groups talked about Work/Life balance, discrimination in the workplace, moving from graduate school to tenure track and other topics, all within the lens of the challenges particular to women and queer folks in archaeology. I wasn’t exactly what the format or discussion topics would be, but as a queer woman entering government service, I want to take advantage of every chance to talk to and learn from others in the know – and I’m so grateful for QAIG and COSWA for setting up the event. I hope they continue to provide opportunities to discuss these topics in a safe and open environment. For the Government Archaeology table, we had two excellent mentors – David E. Witt from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation [Read More]

Mentoring Sessions in Archaeology: Qu(e)rying and Unpacking Discrimination in Archaeology

The SAA Meeting is not all about hearing presentations about exciting research in your field, or practicing your “Yes, this is interesting to me” face during really boring ones.  Meetings are about connecting to people outside of your university.  You can read important papers on the internet, and your “feigned interested” look gets enough workout in your classes and seminars; however, conferences are the best opportunity to extract as much knowledge out of the nation’s best archaeologists as possible.  One of these knowledge sources is mentoring. Most graduate students get some mentoring in their home programs, but as the number of people in any one graduate program is limited, this mentoring is a finite resource.  Plus, there is also a chance that you have unique obstacles on which individuals in your program are not equipped to advise.  This is where the SAAs come to the rescue!  With thousands of experience archaeologists, there are countless opportunities for mentorship.  This year, the Queer Archaeology Interest Group and Committee on the Status of Women in Archaeology formalized this process.  They set up an event that allowed graduate students and junior faculty members to network and get advice from more senior faculty members in [Read More]

Gender, Sexuality, and Queer Theory at SAA 2017

The themes I discussed in my recent series of blog posts came to life on Thursday during the #SAA2017 conference in a series of symposia, workshops, forums, and meetings about issues of gender, sexuality, and intersectionality.  The day started with the symposium “Constructing Archaeology: Sex/Gender and Sexuality Research from the Periphery to the Center”, organized by Kirsten Vacca.  The variety of paper presentations, ranging from gender in the Viking Age, queerphobia in Christianity, to incorporating intersectionality into college curricula, examined the manner in which issues of gender and sexuality may be made central to the archaeological project.  Discussant Chelsea Blackmore offered suggestions that all archaeologists who examine gender should take to heart.  First, we need to interrogate rather than assume our understanding of intersectionality.  Intersectionality is not simply the entwining together of several different identities, but relations of power.  Second, we need more prehistoric archaeologists theorizing intersectionality, and applying it to their work.  Third, gender archaeologists need to rethink how they are practicing their work.  Are we taking intersectionality seriously? What new questions should we be asking? Is staying in our own little boxes keeping gender archaeology on the periphery?  Finally, we must link our work through social action, that [Read More]

Networking for Introverts

You may think that conferences are about hearing talks on cutting-edge methodologies, novel applications of theory, and the odd groan-inducing pun. These things are all important parts of the conference experience, but really they’re about that activity which is most terrifying to us social-anxious introverts: networking. Don’t worry – follow our advice and you will also be moderately successful at interacting with your peers and colleagues. Nathan and I are both here at the #SAA2017 conference to expand our professional contacts; you’ll hear more from him about his experiences later today. Our ultimate goals with networking, however, are different; Nathan is looking for opportunities to work with other scholars in his field of study, find publishing and research opportunities, and establish his reputation in academia. Because I am seeking government employment, I’m focusing on making contacts with people who work with or are employed by federal agencies such as the National Park Service and present myself as someone they would want to put a good word in during the hiring process. So, here are our tips for networking while awkward: Have a goal for your networking – do you want a job? Talk to people in applied areas. Want to [Read More]

Live blogging the SAA 2017 Conference

Nathan and I are excited to bring you all the happenings at the Society for American Archaeology annual conference this week in sunny rainy Vancouver, BC. We traveled here from Binghamton, NY with several other graduate students and faculty. We will be telling you about our experiences at one of the largest archaeology conferences in the world, from the sessions we sit in on, the posters and papers others in our department are giving, to our personal experiences navigating the conference world as a graduate student. Nathan will be attending working groups and panels dealing with queer archaeology and gender/sexuality and the archaeology of Paleolithic Europe. I will be attending sessions on government archaeology, cultural resources management during disasters, and digital archaeology. We’re excited to be able to meet and make connections with a wide variety of leading and up-and-coming scholars in our fields, plus share the experiences of our Binghamton colleagues attending or presenting in sessions about the archaeology of the Southwest, South America, the Mississippi Basin, and GIS and so many more areas of study! We’ll be updating periodically throughout the rest of the week, so stay tuned!  

Queer Archaeology: Present and Future

Well, here we are – the final entry into my series on queer archaeology. I hope that in the previous three posts I have given the archaeological community some things to consider – how to incorporate queer theory in their work, how to queer field and lab work, and how to communicate queer and other politically sensitive archaeologies to the public. These posts were only intended to generate thoughts and provide critiques to get the ideas flowing; I encourage anyone wanting more to peruse the ever growing body of queer literature! In order to wrap up this series, the remainder of this post will explore the state of queer archaeology today, and where queer archaeology may be heading in the future. To my mind, queer archaeology is in a transitional period in its intellectual development. It is no longer in its infancy, for there is a robust set of theoretical and methodological works that set forth its goals and aims, and how those goals and aims are to be achieved. Yet, it is also not a fully “matured” discipline in  the sense that it is still rapidly developing, changing, and growing. It is exactly this transitional state that makes queer [Read More]

Queer Archaeology and the Public

In last week’s post I discussed the necessity of taking queer archaeology into the field and laboratory because these are where archaeology “happens”. However, there is a significant portion of the archaeological process that I ignored in that post – engaging with the public. All archaeology should be public archaeology to some degree; if we are not making an impact on people outside of the academy, then at best archaeology is a hobby, and at worst it’s irrelevant. Thus, if queer archaeology is to make the impact that I am sure that it can, it must be willing and able to engage with its various publics. This is no easy task. “Queer”, like many of our other favorite academic terms such as “feminism” and “Marxism” are rife with social and political tension.  In addition, queer archaeologists are people too. In attempting to take their work to the public, they are exposing themselves to the kinds of reactions queer individuals experience in other social situations. These two issues – how do queer archaeologists disseminate their work to non-archaeologists and how do queer archaeologists protect themselves – will be my concern for this post. Taking Queer Archaeology Outside of the Academy Queer archaeologists [Read More]

Queering Archaeological Practice

In the close of my last post, I mentioned that queer archaeology is something that we do. Queer is a verb more so than a noun or an adjective; queering is meaningful action – and it is only by doing queer archaeology that we can make significant impact on the present. However, it is the moment when queer stops being an adjective to describe our theory, and starts being a verb that describes our actions, that things are often stalled. It is relatively simple to sit in our offices and wax philosophical about performativity, intersectionality, inclusivity – but its is much more challenging to put queer into practice. In this post, I hope to provide some resources and suggestions about how to queer our work. I have divided these into three steps – Teaching & Training, Field & Laboratory Practices, and Dissemination. I do not intend this to be the “be all, end all”, and I welcome any additional suggestions or comments. I also would like to note that, as will hopefully soon be clear, I am not advocating for a complete overhaul of archaeological and scientific methods and procedure.  In fact, most of the methodologies archaeologists employ produce important, verifiable [Read More]