The generation ‘wars’ are everywhere right now

How many out there have read the new issue of the digital SEAC newsletter? The generation gaps discussed in the interview with the New South owners is very interesting and it’s led me to wonder what others think about this distinction. Like any good archaeologist, I’m fascinated by the temporal dimension of social action!

What do you think?

*  Is the ‘millennial’ archaeological experience in the Southeast drastically different than the ‘baby boomer’ experience?

*  If so, is this a good or bad thing?

*  What does such a gap mean about the projects we pursue in school?  Or, what about our decisions on whether or not to pursue a secondary degree?

*  Are we putting too much stock in these generational distinctions?

*  (… and for good measure…)  Are the gender discrepancies experienced by earlier generations still an issue for the upcoming millennial set?

Gen X – you want to weigh in on this?


15 comments on “The generation ‘wars’ are everywhere right now

  1. Ed Henry says:

    All valid points Vichy. That was an interesting article. I am glad some younger folks proposed that they invested in geofizz and I think the owners were quite pleased with their decision to invest in the technology. In some ways I agree with their talk of the fieldwork/school ratio in our generation. I often find myself seeing beautifully constructed theoretical frameworks that are less grounded in data. I consider myself guilty of this to a degree. This issue may be a product of access to—and the failing investment in—large field projects but I also see our generation asking different questions that lead us to explore our data differently. We are not focusing on only quantifying and explaining what we recover but instead asking what broader questions our data might point toward, sometimes to our detriment, sometimes not. There are plenty of people in older generations that do the same. To this end I see more differentiation in the approaches our generations take rather than our overall experiences. Issues of gender inequality, as we saw at SEAC last year, left a large mark on generations that came before us. I think we must be diligent in our interactions with one another to make sure these issues don’t persist. While the general hiring and promotion of women in the Academy is still uneven, I think there is a general trend toward a more even placement in tenure-track positions. Hopefully this fuels a change in the promotion process. In CRM there appears to be more women gaining employment but I am unsure how fairly they are being treated in the larger field and promotion process. All things to ponder as we move forward… I look forward to hearing what others have to say.

  2. Ed Henry says:

    Darn…sorry about misspelling Vicky! 😦

  3. Victor Thompson says:

    Generation X is too tired to think about that now that he has kids….

  4. Maureen Meyers says:

    As a Gen Xer, those large surveys were not available to me either–all were closed down and finished by the time I started doing archaeology in the mid-90s. Yet I did find plenty of fieldwork to be done. I think being flexible as the New South owners suggest is key. In the beginning, I was open to learning all types of things–GIS, lithics, ceramics, settlement patterns, etc. as well as different types of field methodology. This served me well, and was reinforced, in CRM, where each project called for different types of research design and analysis. Now I call myself a ceramics & Mississippian expert, but in CRM I was fairly equally versed (at that time) in Archaic, Woodland, and historic theory and methods. I do get annoyed with undergrads in my fieldschools who may have had some prior archaeology and believe there is only one way to do archaeology, and who lack this flexibility–but I think that is more symptomatic of that age rather than of a generation.

    And for the record, Victor is only a spokesperson for half the generation. The person who bore the babies is likely a bit more tired than he is, but she’s (generic she archaeologist here) is also doing archaeology.

    • Shane says:

      As someone straddling the Gen X/Millenial divide that’s getting a solid dose of CRM now, I want to high five you for the first paragraph. Flexibility definitely seems to be paying off for me.

      And regarding your second paragraph – I’m not convinced that folks like Tanya Peres actually sleep…

    • Richard Moss says:

      Echoing the above but from a decade later, I can offer personal anecdotal confirmation from the Gen Y perspective (DOB that ’86) that ample fieldwork opportunities still exist for those looking to follow a generalist path. In my short 6 years of experience I’ve worked in both academic and CRM settings with a number of researchers for various medium to large projects on a diverse range of site types. I’ve dug units in Archaic shell mounds and around plantation slave cabins, participated in block excavations on Mississippian farmsteads and a probable De Soto contact site, assisted geophysical surveys and analysis, done my share of GIS wizardry, and lately have found myself doing metal detector survey on Civil War battlefields. Opportunities are aplenty for those that seek them, though I must credit good fortune and contacts as well. Admittedly, I’ve done my share of pipeline and road survey drudgery, but I must insist that even during those stints some of us talk archaeology over beers, despite what Mary Beth Reed says in the latest SEAC newsletter!

      PS. Vicky! Glad to see you’re coming back to your alma mater for your SGA presentation and I hope you’ll find the time to chat over a beer with an old classmate!

  5. dover1952 says:

    Baby Boomer: Life was good, including archaeological life, sort of, kind of, maybe. You know archaeology.

  6. I have many thoughts on all of the bullet points In the original post, but I want to briefly address the gender issue.

    I typed “women in the academe” into Google and the result was this:

    The fact that most, if not all, of the results deal with the lack of women in univ leadership positions, the low number of women that want to pursue a career in academia by the third year of the PhD, the fact that a woman with a child (married or not) is at a disadvantage on the TT and beyond while her married with children male counterpart can count the as assests speaks volumes about the state of “gender” in the workplace. The fact that most, if not all, universities have a President’s Commission on the Status of Women, is a sure sign that gender is still an issue. I won’t bore readers with tales of sexism in the field by peers, students, bosses and professors, nor the indignation suffered when locals stop by a field project and only want to talk to the guy in charge, even after asserting that this woman is in charge, thank you very much.

    Ok, I said I would be brief. I am happy to chat over tasty libations in Tampa (as I’m sure Maureen is) about the overt and subtle ways in which gender bias is manifest.

  7. dover1952 says:

    I agree with Tanya. It’s a mess and a matter of real concern to me (a male archaeologist) because I very much love and appreciate the contributions of all women in American archaeology and would like to see all gender barriers reduced to zero.

    I think one thing that would help greatly is the establishment of an affordable on-site nursery school or childcare center (ages newborn – 12) for the chiildren of graduate students and faculty members because most university archaeologists do spend far more time in the laboratory and office than they do in the field. Women archaeologists tell me that one of the biggest barriers (although by no means the only one) they encounter is the lack of convenient and affordable childcare during normal business hours. Childcare in a field situation might require a little more creativity, but it too is potentially surmountable. I know some women who sometimes take older children (age 7) to the field with them and seem to do okay.

    In case you are not aware of it, you can vsit an online blog called “Feminine Voices in Archaeology” and work with other women archaeologists to bring about change. Not that you need it, but you might be surprised at how many male archaeologists are willing to stand beside you in this fight. You can count on me.

  8. Tanya Peres says:

    Yes, gender is still a problem, and it is really a problem in the US.
    “The World Economic Forum plans to release its annual Global Gender Gap Report on Thursday, and the United States ranks an embarrassing 23rd out of 136 countries in the status of women. The United States has actually slipped one slot since a year ago and does particularly poorly by international standards in wage equality and in numbers of women in the legislative branch.”

  9. […] a way this post is following the previous discussion of generational differences within archaeology, but mostly I wanted to begin a more generalized […]

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