By: Becky O’Sullivan
Well, it’s been a long day of listening to papers but now it’s time to sit back and relax.
Today Jeff and I presented our respective papers in a symposium on involving the public with archaeological projects titled “Toward an Archaeological Agora Revisited: Using Collaborative Approaches in Facilitating Public Participation and Creation of Archaeological Knowledge and Understanding” (fancy I know.) Jeff talked about new trainings for divers in Florida that not only teach them to understand and preserve underwater archaeological sites, but also empower them to take an active role in protecting them. My paper was on the Driftwood project that we completed two summers ago in St. Pete. I focused on all the ways we had tried to engage the Driftwood neighbors and included their local knowledge and memories in our project. They seemed to go really well, and afterward everyone had a great discussion about the triumphs and “tragedies” of seeking out involvement from the public in archaeological projects.
Presenting at a professional conference can be nerve-wracking, I’m naturally pretty adverse to getting up to talk in front of large groups, but the benefits of sharing your work with others and in turn learning from their work far outweigh those drawbacks. A good presentation can make you re-think even your most basic assumptions about what archaeology is and should be and make you a stronger researcher as a result!