Recycling and re-use

In the remainder of this month I want to turn to a particular kind of recycling. What I’m interested in is the ways in which relatively mundane material moves around, what examining that movement tells you about people and how people can use that research themselves. It’s a kind of public archaeology that tries to find ways for people to appropriate archaeological methods or perspectives to aid their own interventions, whether in shaping cities by deciding where to live, opposing planning proposals or even voting in local and national elections.

What I’m planning over the next fortnight is to start, on Monday, by introducing these ideas and their public archaeology potential in a bit more detail, before moving on to talk about my recent work with the staff and customers of the Bristol Wood Recycling Project. After that, I’ll conclude the whole month with some thoughts on material networks and public archaeology and how the two coming together can change the world (maybe).

In the meantime, I wonder whether anyone out there has come across any existing links between archaeology and recycling/re-use or has worked with community groups like the Bristol Wood Recycling Project. Comment below and let me know!

Here are a few pics until Monday…

photo 1


photo 2

photo 3

PA2015: April preview

Following on from Map Orkney Month is a daunting task! It’s hard to match the scale of that project, but perhaps one way to go is to contrast a really successful project with one that has partly failed.

My month is about the ways that mundane objects move around, the role people play in that movement, and the potential for people to be a kind of public archaeologist through engaging with what is going on. The month will split into two parts, one of which has failed (in a way), one of which has not.

The first part of the month will look at eBay and its potential as a public archaeology archive. Unfortunately, I have failed to engage a single eBay seller. What this means though is that I can use that as the basis of a discussion about failures of engagement which is something that doesn’t happen enough.

What remains of the eBay work is some interesting data, interesting comparisons with similar material on the Portable Antiquities Scheme and a little non-art (for I am not an artist) project on the locations of eBay items that is interesting, funny and really weird all at the same time. Here’s a sneak preview:

1715 treasure fleets cabin wreck musket balls

1715 treasure fleets cabin wreck musket balls

metal detecting finds tokens jettons etc

metal detecting finds tokens jettons etc

For the second half of the month I will be moving into towns and looking at networks of reuse and recycling. On 11 April, I’m going to Bristol to spend a day with the staff and customers of the Bristol Wood Recycling Project and I will report back afterwards, as well as posting plenty more information on the context of the kind of public engagement with archaeology I am looking at with this work.

Please please get involved with the failure discussion, it could be really important! And enjoy the rest.

James Dixon