You can find at review of out Paper and the conference in The Posthole
Nicola Thorpe and Victoria Beauchamp presented a paper entitled Digability: enabling those from disadvantaged backgrounds to access their heritage at TAG 2012 held at the University of Liverpool. The session Disability and Archaeology: Critical Perspectives and Inclusive Practices was an interesting mix of how archaeologists identify disability in the past through the study of burial practice (Graham), bones (Walker & Phillips) and remains of for example shrines (Verstraete) to those papers that looked at how current thinking about disability affects our interpretation of past societies (Trentin). Only our paper and that of Dario Scarpati looked at how we can use archaeology to engage those from disadvantaged backgrounds not only with their local heritage but also also how we can use archaeology as a tool for developing educational and life skills.
On reflection our paper may have more comfortably sat with those on Community Archaeology in the session New Approaches to Archaeological Outreach, engagement and ownership. This interesting group of papers reflected on the ways ‘archaeologists’ interact with the public.
Archaeology Scotland presented their Adopt-a-Monument which sought to engage local communities around a local landmark, learn to record and survey it as well as how to maintain it for future generations.
Other papers looked at how ‘archaeology’ communities grow and develop from initial projects. Jon Kenny and Peter Connelly presented the four stages of development from establishment, through chaos and emptiness to true communities that know what they want and where they want to go. Sarah Dhanjal, UCL, looked at how we interact with diverse urban communities and asked the question of how much our own backgrounds influence what we perceive to be the ‘needs’ or ‘interests’ of others to find out about their heritage.
Rachael Kiddey talked about her innovative project with the homeless and how her work has inspired those involved to find out more about archaeology and become involved in education. Through her work it has become clear how much archaeology is part of being a team, something that becomes meaningful in peoples lives and inspires self awareness, self confidence and self belief. This is something we at Digability see everyday we are with the students and staff involved in this project.
Lorna Richardson looked at how effective websites ( such as this one), Twitter and Facebook are at engaging communities with archaeology (we would welcome your comments on how effective you think this website is).
It was a long day but provided lots of stimulating discussion and food for thought.