Thursday, 14 February 2013

Sour grapes

I did not touch last week the great revelation of the week - suggested though for some time - that is the confirmation of the identity of the man excavated from the car park in Leicester. Nevertheless, I thought the internship issue had to be covered before jumping the Richard III band wagon. I already discussed the matter with some Embrace Arts and WEA students and was explaining how I find the basic research behind the flashy headlines reassuringly robust. Nothing to do with the fact that I have eaten the divine walnut cake baked by the osteologist who cracked slightly Richard’s skull with a mattock to the amusement of the field archaeologists everywhere.

This was in the Pitts blog as well (University of Leicester)

After the TV documentary headed by the secretary of the Scottish arm of the Richard III Society and the Death from the Stupid Deaths of the Horrible Histories the critics raised their heads and sharpened their axes. I could point out that a well-presented press conference can bring the results of a project together like no peer-reviewed publication, that the peer-reviewed article will be provided by the Antiquity (if it passes the peer-review) as soon as possible and that archaeologists have always popularised their results. Part of the funding and the idea came from outside the profession, so the University was answering a demand in the community. This may be an occasion when Leicester is delivering a result to the official expectations of the authorities for research to have a social impact. The critics such as Charlotte Higgins would probably have loved to have this kind of possibility to enhance the reputation of their own university. For academics with a visible and widely acknowledged media profile to suggest that other academics may be slightly misplaced to publicise their results in a press conference comes across as sour grapes. I could go on and on but this all has already done better.

Mike Pitts in his long Digging Deeper post gives well-established opinions and shows that professional archaeologist can give respect to their peers who ‘strike gold’. But he does edit British Archaeology magazine, so he is better informed than most of us. And what regards any discussions on the non-existing screenwriting credits in the IMdb or the re-enactment of ‘Britain’s Most Haunted’, better not to continue further...

No comments:

Post a Comment