Saturday, June 18, 2011

An Armchair Archaeologist/Historian Ventures Forth

I've been thinking about starting a blog like this for a while, although I make no promises about sticking with it. I'll try to keep my observations as intelligent and mature as possible, but I make no promises there, either.

My main motives for starting this blog right now are
1) I'm finally/abruptly done with college and [theoretically] have time for hobbies again, and
2) I have commenced my transition into the real/adult world by moving to Williamsburg, VA for an internship with the archaeologists at Colonial Williamsburg.

It's an adventure in more ways than one. Among other things, I've never lived on my own before except while I was in school, which doesn't really count, and although previous fieldwork was a prerequisite for this internship, my previous experience was as a student/slave at a large and somewhat disorganized field school. This is the first time I've felt like a REAL archaeologist, and I've really gotten a kick out of being able to introduce myself to my new roommates and their friends as "an archaeologist" instead of "an archaeology/anthropology/history student".

True, it would be better if I could also say I was getting paid for it, but we've all got to start somewhere. I may be a mere intern, but everyone around me is getting paid. That means there's hope. (… Right?)

Anyway, these first week's of this blog's existence are [again, theoretically] going to be full of what I am seeing and thinking and learning as I dig (literally!) into eighteenth-century Virginia. I'm already behind, as I've been here two weeks already (time flies), but that just means I have a backlog of what I hope are interesting things to impart—things about archaeological fieldwork and historical archaeology in general, but also about historical and archaeological tourism and about Colonial Williamsburg itself.

Having said that, this is probably a good time to reiterate what's written at the bottom of this page, which is that anything I have to say is coming out of my own head unless otherwise noted. I might get information from other people, but any opinions I express about that information are my own. I'm not purporting to speak for anyone else, least of all CW or anyone I work with there. As I've already mentioned, they're not paying me, so any praise I have is genuine, and any criticisms are... well, if they're not paying me, I feel like they can't tell me what not to say, as long as I'm not knowingly revealing anything confidential (which I won't).

Now, if I may be a dork for just a moment, I just want to say that words cannot express how excited I am to be here. It's objectively a great opportunity, but I think maybe it's still a greater opportunity in my head than it is in reality. I have been a history nerd since I can remember, always with a special boner* for colonial-period America, and despite the fact that I am now [theoretically again?] an educated grown woman, it never occurred to me until very recently that there are people, even people who did not grow up on the other side of the country and who are not totally clueless about the world at large, who have never heard of Colonial Williamsburg. This came as a shocking and somewhat appalling discovery for me. Williamsburg has loomed large in my mind for my entire life, and not just because I have family connections to the College of William and Mary. As a historical entity, it's the epitome (or close to it) of English-colonial America; as a modern creation, it's the museum to end all museums.

And you know, we can debate the purposes and responsibilities of museums and of historical scholarship, the meaning and importance of accuracy, the pros and cons and benefits and flaws of reconstruction and of living history all day, but at the end of that day, academic persona and scholarly opinions aside, I am still a geeky ten years old at heart and I still just plain love this shit.*

For anyone from my Historical Memory seminar last semester who's reading this: I totally had an American Girl doll. And it was totally Felicity.

* Okay, I should probably also note that I'm going to try to keep things PG, but sometimes this is going to happen instead. I apologize in advance.

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