Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Emancipatory Digital Archaeology
by Morgan, Colleen Leah, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2012, 192; 3555833
Abstract (Summary)

As archaeologists integrate digital media into all stages of archaeological methodology it is necessary to understand the implications of using this media to interpret the past. Using digital media is not a neutral or transparent act; to critically engage with digital media it is necessary to create an interdisciplinary space, drawing from the growing body of new media and visual studies, materiality, and anthropological and archaeological theory. This dissertation describes this interdisciplinary space in detail and investigates the following questions: what does it mean to employ digital media in the context of archaeology, how do digital technologies shape inquiry within archaeology, can new media theory change interpretation in archaeology, and can digital media serve as a mechanism for an emancipatory archaeology? To attend to these questions I address digital media created by archaeologists as digital archaeological artifacts, understood as active members of a network of interpretation in archaeology. To give structure to this understanding I assemble three object biographies that identify the digital archaeological artifact's context, the authorship of the artifact, the inclusion of multiple perspectives involved in its creation, and evaluate the openness or ability to share the artifact. The three object biographies that constitute the body of this work are a digital photograph taken of a teapot at Tall Dhiban in Jordan, a digital video of an unexpected excavator participating at Çatalhöyük in Turkey, and a 3D reconstruction of a Neolithic building excavated at Çatalhöyük within the virtual world of Second Life. In these object biographies I weave together narrative, imagery and rigorous, theoretically informed analyses to provide a reflexive investigation of digital archaeological artifacts. Drawing from this research, I advocate a critical making movement in archaeology that will enable archaeologists to use digital media in an activist, emancipatory role to highlight inequity, bring the voices of stakeholders into relief, de-center interpretations, and to make things and share them.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Tringham, Ruth
Commitee: Conkey, Margaret, Van House, Nancy
School: University of California, Berkeley
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 74/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Archaeology, Multimedia Communications
Keywords: Archaeology, Digital media, Materiality, New media, Photography, Virtual reality, Visual studies
Publication Number: 3555833
ISBN: 9781267974501