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The Inability of Ability

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The inability of Ability within UK archaeology today is a major bugbear for those of us within enabled archaeology.

What do I mean?

The normal expectations and assumptions that UK society says should be present in the culture of our society says ‘you cannot do….. or be competent in … if you do not act, behave or do things in a way that conforms to our expectations or even assumptions’. So if we have different body positions to dig, or approach an issue ‘outside the norm’ we apparently won’t get competent good or best practice results within excavations, museum projects or at university study. Can I suggest that if we as a profession and discipline follow this way of thinking then in the end we could well lose our creativity, innovation and massively become a stale, dry and even boring subject. With many new and innovatory ideas not only shelved but stifled to death by our lack of understanding new thoughts, approaches, valuable contributions and that as some believe in archaeology all areas ‘should stay the way they always have been’ as they say it gets good results in the field and elsewhere in archaeology anyway.
If inventors hadn’t invented the electric light, discovered penicillin or how to create and build the steam engine our society would not have progressed or developed at all.

I say within archaeology if we don’t progress and develop we could stagnate and lose many many new ingenious approaches and ideas which could aid the vast skill shortages, employ enabled archaeologists but above all without progress we will be hindered in the advance of best practice, equality and diversity within our domain. So by doing nothing and always staying the same is not I suggest an option we can even consider for us to develop and thrive.

So what to the ‘inability of Abilities’? If all the abilities we are meant to have are perceived in only one way and shouldn’t be changed or if we use our Abilities in approaches and ways that are not expected wouldn’t it be good if we all just waited, then saw for ourselves if they work or not? People being only employed as a last resort or accepted at university because ‘they are not as good as someone else’ because of their dis/Abilities just can’t hold weight when there are so many amazing excellent examples of how even quietly away from these sorts of open discussions there are many within archaeology competently and quietly getting on with their job in hand and doing an excellent job.

As Holtorf says it is by the lived experience that people get to know, take part and understand archaeology, perhaps and I mean perhaps one answer would be to have a complete archaeological commercial unit only staffed by enabled archaeologists? But then we get into the idea of segregation which I totally reject and yet it would illustrate how well enabled archaeologists work which in turn could give evidentiary support to our inclusion in all sectors of UK archaeology. So I ask will you enable us all by speaking openly when openings come up or you see people negatively treating any of us dis/Abled participants? For by speaking openly about us you give us an equal chance with everybody else, by breaking down prejudice, inequality and silence you in your everyday life can aid a complete cultural change in archaeology today. Thank you so much!

Theresa O’Mahony