Anthropologies: The Workmen of Mes Aynak

Ryan Anderson’s wonderful Anthropologies project is on its tenth edition:

Beyond Words (the visual issue)

I wrote my contribution in India, in longhand, then typed it out in an internet cafe. First fully analog to digital blog entry for me, check out one of the 4(!)pages:

One of my favorite academics (and people) Dr. Sara Perry also has a contribution to this edition, titled: Fluid Fields: The (Unspoken) Intersections of Visual Anthropology and Archaeology.

Here’s an excerpt of my entry, for the full length click through to Anthropologies.

The Workmen of Mes Aynak

Workmen are a rarely discussed but often present element in large excavations performed outside the United States and the United Kingdom. Their presence evokes the Victorian era of archaeology; large expanses of oddly-dressed men working with picks and shovels, directed by a man in a pith helmet and perfectly clean khakis. While this is becoming rare (indeed this method is heavily critiqued) it is still employed in large excavations. Some governments require foreign excavations to employ local people, and in sites in Greece, workmen are professionals unto themselves, often more familiar with the archaeological remains than their student “supervisors.” In still other excavations, workmen are not allowed to excavate the “real” archaeology, but are employed to move our already-excavated spoil or to lift sandbags. While there is a wide range of experience and interaction between foreign excavations and local people available, archaeologists receive no training in interpersonal management or customs. Yet we form relationships with these workmen and learn from each other. They become our friends and workmates but they still occupy the margins in archaeology–excluded in publications, never cited, and rarely thanked.

(click here for the rest)

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