Event Details

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Oral History and Archaeology [Deeper Digs]

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Oral History and Archaeology [Deeper Digs]

When: February 29, 2024 2:00-4:00 PM ET

Duration: 2 hours

Certification: RPA-Certified


Individual Registration: $99 for SAA members; $149 for non-members

Group Registration: $139 for SAA members; $189 for non-members

Patricia Markert, PhD, RPA, Western University

Patricia Markert is an historical archaeologist and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Western University. She received her PhD from Binghamton University and a Master’s of Applied Anthropology from the University of Maryland, College Park. She has over ten years of oral history experience. Markert currently directs the Castro Colonies Oral History Project in Medina County, Texas, which is part of a broader community-based archaeology program examining place-making in the wake of Alsatian, German, and Mexican migration to the area. Her dissertation, Making Alsatian Texas: An Archaeological, Linguistic, and Ethnographic Study of Place and Migration in Castroville and D’Hanis, TX, drew on linguistic anthropology theory and methods to make sense of oral history data alongside archaeological data.

Oral history is a valuable tool for archaeological research. It is also its own field with well-established methods and theory; a source of narrative data that involves memory, storytelling, and the relationship between interviewee and interviewer; and a touchstone method for community-based and collaborative research. Like any approach, doing oral history requires proper training, research design, and attention to ethics. This can be difficult terrain to navigate for archaeologists working to stay current in our own field. This seminar provides tools and resources that will help archaeologists conduct ethical and informed oral history research as part of an archaeological project. We will discuss the mechanics of an oral history project, including planning, research design, interviewing, ethics, and equipment. We will also touch on aspects of post-processing, transcription, and analysis, the challenges and importance of storage and curation, and ways to make sense of oral and narrative data.  

  1. To broadly understand the equipment, methods, theories, and ethics of oral history research.
  2. To assess how oral history contributes to archaeological research and whether oral history is an appropriate tool for a given project.
  3. To know the steps needed to imagine, design, and implement an oral history interview or project as part of a larger archaeological research design.