In-between Times

The semester ended without much fanfare for me–I only had one class and there wasn’t a specific final project for it, just a series of close readings of important texts in Materiality and Actor-Network Theory.  It was one of the best classes I’ve taken, as it had a fairly light load of reading, but the things we did read were well-selected and important within the field.  If I ever teach, and if I have much control over my course content, I’d love to lead a similar class.  It’s also pushed me in a slightly different direction with my dissertation, one that will be more productive.

In the meantime I’ve done a few minor projects, taught myself some new tricks with photoshop and adobe illustrator, geared up for a photography/archaeology stint this summer, and done a lot of reading for an article that I’m writing.  Nothing much bloggable, obviously, but it’s been nice to be able to have a little space to get myself ready for a summer of research.

I’ll be in Jordan for much of the summer, as previously mentioned, working on the site of Dhiban in my dual role as excavator and digital documentarian.  Later this week I’ll have a link to the project blog, a collaboration with some Knox college undergrads.  After the excavations there end, I’ll be attending the World Archaeological Congress inter-congress in Ramallah, then going back to Turkey to finish up a few things at good ol’ Catalhoyuk.  By that time it will be late August, and I’ll be back in Berkeley to help teach Archaeology and the Media and attend to some undergraduate researchers continuing work on Okapi Island in Second Life.  Expect to see more about the Bahrain Bioarchaeology Project, a couple of conference papers…and I’m thinking about taking Arabic. Y’know, because I won’t be busy enough.

So, for the next few days I’ll be tying off ends, cutting, changing a few colors, keeping many the same, and then restarting the steady weaving–hoping for a good pattern, or at least something that won’t come apart once off the loom.

(Re)Building Çatalhöyük: Changing Virtual Reality in Archaeology

I submitted the final version of my Archaeologies journal article today, through their digital editorial manager.  It is a reworked version of a paper I wrote for the World Archaeological Congress last year in Dublin and it will be my first official publication.  Many thanks to Krysta Ryzewski, the editor of the volume, for organizing the session and accepting my paper!  Also thanks to Ms. Lei-Leen Choo who lended her exacting eye to proofreading it and asking all the right questions about the content.

Already I can see the many ways in which the article is lacking and it feels dated even after only a year.  Heck, even the images that I included…the reconstruction houses on Okapi island don’t even look like that anymore!  It is probably good to be able to fix scholarship in time, but that doesn’t make it much more comfortable.  I hope Michael Shanks is kind in his introductory comments–fingers crossed. I am a bit uncomfortable with some of the traditional forms of publishing, but I was delighted to see Springer’s copyright policy:

Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress The copyright to this article is transferred to Springer (respective to owner if other than Springer and for U.S. government employees: to the extent transferable) effective if and when the article is accepted for publication. The copyright transfer covers the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute the article, including reprints, translations, photographic reproductions, microform, electronic form (offline, online) or any other reproductions of similar nature. An author may self-archive an author-created version of his/her article on his/her own website and his/her institution’s repository, including his/her final version; however he/ she may not use the publisher’s PDF version which is posted on Furthermore, the author may only post his/her version provided acknowledgement is given to the original source of publication and a link is inserted to the published article on Springer’s website. The link must be accompanied by the following text: “The original publication is available at”. Please use the appropriate DOI for the article (go to the Linking Options in the article, then to OpenURL and use the link with the DOI). Articles disseminated via are indexed, abstracted, and referenced by many abstracting and information services, bibliographic networks, subscription agencies, library networks, and consortia. The author warrants that this contribution is original and that he/she has full power to make this grant. The author signs for and accepts responsibility for releasing this material on behalf of any and all co-authors. After submission of this agreement signed by the corresponding author, changes of authorship or in the order of the authors listed will not be accepted by Springer.

The original publication (will be) available at  Barring something horrible, it will be published in the December 2009 edition of Archaeologies.  Here’s a link to the self-archived author version, sans images:

(Re)Building Catalhoyuk: Changing Virtual Reality in Archaeology

I would love to get any and all feedback y’all had to offer on it.

I am cooking up a much more in-depth article, so watch this space!

Archaeolog Post: Twittering TAG

I wrote this for, but I’ll post the beginning here:


At first, I was at a loss. Earlier in the week I had stated my intention to twitter the Stanford meeting of the Theoretical Archaeology Group on my blog, but there I was, standing outside the door of a conference room, wondering what exactly I should write. Twitter is a social networking site that allows users to send messages to their ‘followers’ in short, 140 character-long statements. These statements can be read online or sent automatically as a text message to your cellphone. Out of curiosity I signed up for Twitter in April of 2007, but didn’t use the service much, as I didn’t know anyone else who was using it at the time. Since then, Twitter has grown precipitously, with famous users such as Tina Fey, Oprah Winfrey, Hugh Jackman and President Obama (who has been rather quiet lately) updating their subscribers on subjects ranging from world policy to food preferences–Tina Fey ate a Caramello bar for lunch on February 3rd, in case you were wondering. I find Twitter useful primarily to join in a broader conversation during specific events; Twitter is nearly indispensable during South by Southwest, a large music, film, and interactive conference where I was a guest speaker on an archaeology panel last March. People attending the conference could use hashtags, a method of tagging updates that makes it possible to search for event and topic-specific commentary. I was able to find reactions to our panel discussion by searching for archaeology under the #SXSW hashtag and was happy to see that our discussion of virtual reconstructions and the archive were well-received by the technologists in the audience.

(the rest can be found at

Linguistics and Nerd Cadence

Geek Girl Blogger
"Geek Girl Blogger" - normalized nerd performance?

I’ve always been a little curious about what I’ve informally called “nerd cadence.”  Probably best typified by the “Comic Book Guy” on the Simpsons TV show, nerd cadence is a form of ultra-precise, highly melodic speech with clipped enunciation that is performed in communities of self-identified nerds or geeks.  Like most people, I’ve encountered it off and on over the years, and it was in full force at the new Star Trek movie showing in Emeryville last week.  Finally, in a fit inspired by Final Cut crashing on me for the third time I decided to look it up.  My knowledge of linguistic anthropology is weak at best, but I was able to find a few sources in pretty short order.

First, I found out that what I had called “nerd cadence” was termed “superstandard English.”  In her article, “The Whiteness of Nerds: Superstandard English and Racial Markedness” (and also in earlier article, “Why be normal?”: Language and identity practices in a community of nerd girls”) Mary Bucholtz calls the performance of superstandard English “central to nerdy practice… (there) is a particular emphasis on language as a resource for the production of an intelligent and nonconformist identity.”  Superstandard English draws on both ideological and linguistic motivations, “contrast(ing) linguistically with Standard English in its greater use of ‘supercorrect’ linguistic variables: lexical formality, carefully articulated phonological forms, and prescriptively standard grammar” to distinguish the speaker from the umarked colloquial standard English and non-standard English.  Bucholtz goes on to note the particular lack of current slang, and found that it was one of the “rare instances when the nerdy teenagers (she) spoke to were willing to admit to ignorance.” I wonder how much of that has changed with the growing prevalence of the internet and nerd culture.

Bucholtz frames a lot of her article in terms of the black/white racial divide at the Bay Area high school where she performed her research. This is particularly interesting to me, as I took an Urban Anthropology class with John Hartigan in…2002 (?) at the height of research on “whiteness” and have recommended The Possessive Investment in Whiteness and How the Irish Became White to several of my students who professed a perceived lack of ethnic identity. (Hartigan was great, but I don’t think I’ll ever forgive him for making me read The Future of Us All, Sanjek’s mind-numbing ethnography of the inner workings of meetings in a New York city district.  Zoning laws.  Parking meters. Ugh.)  Anyway, nerds, Bucholtz writes, “inhabited an ambiguous racial position at Bay City High: they were the whitest group but not the prototypical representatives of whiteness.”  They were “not normal because they were too normal.” They were not “white because they were too white.”

So, anyway, I looked up some of Mary Bucholtz’s newer work and she is currently studying “The Development of Scientist Identities and the Retention of Undergraduate Women in Science Majors,” funded by the NSF. Hey, cool.

Any thoughts?

Archaeology in Action, Another Update

Let’s see what we can see from the Flickr group, Archaeology in Action!

SUT-027 Headland Excavation 2004

This is the photo that inspired the post, honestly.  Crazy cliff-hanging action from Buzz Hoffman, digging in the Aniakchak National Monument in Alaska.  He has plenty of other lovely photos of this midden that is eroding out from the cliff.  Be sure to check them out.

Wenhaston, Suffolk April 2009

Very urbane and clean-cut archaeology from our English friends in Suffolk, digging a Roman enclosure.  Sure, dig in squares. Just make them REALLY BIG!

a square of blue

Speaking of squares, here’s a nice shot from an excavation at Kouphovouno in Greece.  Apparently, it’s the most important Neolithic site in Laconia!

Spanish Beads

Finally, a special shot for my friend Jason, who loves really big scales!  These are Spanish beads from an excavation in Florida.

Please submit your field photos to Archaeology in Action, don’t just put them up on Facebook.

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