Activism from the Archives: Changing Narratives to Engage New Communities

  • Brenna R. HassettEmail author
  • Victoria L. Herridge
  • Rebecca M. Wragg Sykes
  • Suzanne Pilaar Birch
Part of the One World Archaeology book series (WORLDARCH)


Archival resources are a key part of disseminating a vision of archaeological heritage that captures the public imagination, engages a wider audience, and dictates the narrative of disciplinary history. The successes of the TrowelBlazers project show there is tremendous scope to reset imaginations and the popular conception of archaeology. This chapter will outline how a completely voluntary, grassroots, community-sourced activist approach has been able to successfully draw out and publicize narratives from archival resources as well as oral and personal histories to engage community activism, public interest, and to encourage and support underrepresented groups to engage with archaeology and heritage.


Community activism Women in archaeology Digital communities Public archaeology 


  1. Ackerman, N. (2016). Forgotten women of science are remembered in a new exhibition at Burlington House. London: Evening Standard.Google Scholar
  2. Aitchison, K., & Edwards, R. (2008). Archaeology labour market intelligence: Profiling the profession 2007/08. Reading: Institute of Field Archaeologists.Google Scholar
  3. Aitchison, K., & Rocks-Macqueen, D. (2013). Archaeology labour market intelligence: Profiling the profession. London: Landward Research.Google Scholar
  4. Apaydin, V. (2016). Effective or not? Success or failure? Assessing heritage and archaeological education programmes—The case of Çatalhöyük. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 22(10), 828–843.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Apaydin, V. (2017). Heritage values and communities: Examining heritage perceptions and public engagements. In A. Dakouri-Hild (Ed). Public Archaeologies of the Ancient Mediterranean. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies, pp. 349–363.Google Scholar
  6. Aronson, J., Quinn, D. M., & Spencer, S. J. (1998). Stereotype threat and the academic underperformance of minorities and women. Prejudice: The target’s perspective (pp. 83–103). San Diego: Academic.Google Scholar
  7. Clance, P., Imes, R., & Ament, S. (1978). The imposter phenomenon in high achieving women: Dynamics and therapeutic intervention. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice, 15(3), 241–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clancy, K. B. H., Nelson, R. G., Rutherford, J. N., & Hinde, K. (2014). Survey of academic field experiences (SAFE): Trainees report harassment and assault. PLoS One, 9(7), e102172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cobb, H., & Croucher, K. (2016). Personal, political, pedagogic: Challenging the binary bind in archaeological teaching, learning and fieldwork. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 23(3), 949–969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Conkey, M. W., & Spector, J. D. (1984). Archaeology and the study of gender. Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory, 7, 1–38.Google Scholar
  11. Dowson, T. A. (2000). Why queer archaeology? An introduction. World Archaeology, 32(2), 161–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. European Commission. (2012). Parliamentary question: Communication campaign: ‘Science: It’s a Girl Thing’. European Commission. Retrieved from EU.
  13. Gero, J. M. (1994). Excavation bias and the woman at home ideology. Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association, 5(1), 37–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gould, P. G. (2016). On the case: Method in public and community archaeology. Public Archaeology, 15(1), 5–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hamilton, S. (2014). Under-representation in contemporary archaeology. Papers from the Institute of Archaeology, 24(1).Google Scholar
  16. Hassett, B. R. (2017). The TrowelBlazing women of archaeology. History Today, 67(2).Google Scholar
  17. Hassett, B. R., Pilaar-Birch, S., Herridge, V., & Wragg Sykes, B. (2017). TrowelBlazers: Accidentally crowd-sourcing an archive of women in archaeology. In V. Apaydin (Ed.), Public participatory archaeology. Oxford: Springer.Google Scholar
  18. Herridge, V. L. (2013). A very incomplete network of early 20th Century pioneering women archaeologists. Figshare.
  19. Holtorf, C. (2006). Studying archaeological fieldwork in the field: Views from Monte Polizzo. In M. Edgeworth (Ed.), Ethnographies of archaeological practice: Cultural encounters, material transformations (p. 81). London: Altamira Press.Google Scholar
  20. Insoll, T. (2007). The archaeology of identity: A reader (p. 23). London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Isherwood, R. (2009). Community archaeology. A study of the conceptual, political and practical issues surrounding community archaeology in the United Kingdom today. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Manchester.Google Scholar
  22. Kimmings, B. (2013). Credible likeable superstar role model. London: Oberon Books.Google Scholar
  23. Kiser, B. (2017). Raising Horizons: Women in science reframed. Nature Blogs: Nature.Google Scholar
  24. Lesko, B. (2006). Amelia Blanford Edwards, 1831-1892 Breaking Ground. Brown University: Jukowsky Institute.Google Scholar
  25. MacPhee, D., Farro, S., & Canetto, S. S. (2013). Academic self-efficacy and performance of underrepresented STEM majors: Gender, ethnic, and social class patterns. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 13(1), 347–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Marshall, Y. (2002). What is community archaeology? World Archaeology, 34(2), 211–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Moshenska, G. (2010). What is public archaeology? Present Pasts, 1(1).Google Scholar
  28. Moshenska, G., & Schadla-Hall, T. (2011). Mortimer Wheeler’s theatre of the past. Public Archaeology, 10(1), 46–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Newitz, A. (2014). This incredible palaeontologist has been missing for decades. Io9.Google Scholar
  30. Pell, A. N. (1996). Fixing the leaky pipeline: Women scientists in academia. Journal of Animal Science, 74(11), 2843–2848.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Perry, S., & Beale, N. (2015). The social web and archaeology’s restructuring: Impact, exploitation, disciplinary change. Open Archaeology, 1(1).Google Scholar
  32. Pilaar Birch, S. (2013). Mary Anning: Google doodle celebrates the missing woman of geology. The Guardian.Google Scholar
  33. Richardson, L. (2013). A digital public archaeology? Papers from the Institute of Archaeology, 23(1), 10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Richardson, L.-J., & Almansa-Sánchez, J. (2015). Do you even know what public archaeology is? Trends, theory, practice, ethics. World Archaeology, 47(2), 194–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Robnett, R. D. (2015). Gender bias in STEM fields. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 40(1), 65–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Schadla-Hall, T. (1999). Editorial: Public archaeology. European Journal of Archaeology, 2(2), 147–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schmader, T., Johns, M., & Forbes, C. (2008). An integrated process model of stereotype threat effects on performance. Psychological Review, 115(2), 336–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. (2016). What does it mean to be human? Tabun 1.Google Scholar
  39. Thelwall, M., & Kousha, K. (2014). Social network or academic network? Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 65(4), 721–731.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Trigger, B. (1980). Gordon childe: Revolutions in archaeology. Columbia: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Trigger, B. (2006). A history of archaeological thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. TrowelBlazers. (2013a). Awesome, trowel-wielding women: WE SALUTE YOU! TrowelBlazers.Google Scholar
  43. TrowelBlazers. (2013b). Dame Kathleen Mary Kenyon, DBE (b. 1906 – d. 1978). TrowelBlazers.Google Scholar
  44. TrowelBlazers. (2013c). The dynamite discoveries of Dorothea bate. TrowelBlazers.Google Scholar
  45. Van Noorden, R. (2014). Online collaboration: Scientists and the social network. Nature, 512, 126–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Whitehouse, R. (2013). Margaret Murray (1863–1963): Pioneer Egyptologist, feminist and first female archaeology lecturer. Archaeology International, 16, 120–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wragg Sykes, R. (2017). TrowelBlazers. Current Archaeology, 324, 50–52.Google Scholar
  48. Wragg Sykes, B., Herridge, V., Hassett, B. R., & Pilaar-Birch, S. (2013). A Splendid Regiment of Women: 20th century research networks among women scientists in archaeology, geology and palaeontology. In S. Charman-Anderson (Ed.), A passion for science. London: Finding Ada Project.Google Scholar
  49. Xu, Y. J. (2008). Gender disparity in STEM disciplines: A study of faculty attrition and turnover intentions. Research in Higher Education, 49(7), 607–624.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brenna R. Hassett
    • 1
    Email author
  • Victoria L. Herridge
    • 1
  • Rebecca M. Wragg Sykes
    • 2
  • Suzanne Pilaar Birch
    • 3
  1. 1.Natural History MuseumLondonUK
  2. 2.University of BordeauxBordeauxFrance
  3. 3.University of GeorgiaAthensUSA

Personalised recommendations