The final fate of the superb and world-renowned Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield is being decided and announced tomorrow. For context, please read my earlier post ‘Save Sheffield Archaeology’. Whatever their decision, make your voice known! PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE THE PETITION.

On Friday 9 July, I joined colleagues from around the world in an online rally in support of the Department, its staff and students.

It was inspiring to hear the incredibly brave and forthright, incisive and rigorous critiques of the circumstances and situation Sheffield’s staff and students have been facing. Equally, it was truly humbling, shocking and upsetting (but not surprising) to learn of the scale and depth of the impact the process is having on student’s and staff’s mental and physical health.

I was proud to accept the invitation to add a short speech to the chorus of support for the Department of Archaeology at Sheffield. I briefly reviewed my experiences of campaigning against proposed redundancies at my institution. I expressed my support and solidarity with all those affected at the University of Sheffield in opposition against their unjustified and detrimental situation.

I had 5 points to say by way of conclusion which I summarise and clarify here:

  • don’t let threats, callousness and casual disregard stop you from speaking how where and how you can;
  • don’t wait for others to step forward, those making these decisions thrive on fear and inaction;
  • never underestimate the power of our collective voice, not only our wonderful union – UCU – and students, but also the voices of colleagues across the world. This includes not only archaeologists but those from cognate disciplines, including anthropology, history and language and linguistic scholars as well as amateurs and enthusiasts;
  • Chester and Sheffield won’t be the last to face the threats of cuts and closure: the illusion of security that ‘it won’t happen here or to me’ must be cast aside: this is a threat to our disciplines and our pursuits – including teaching and research, that is UK-wide but affecting the disciplines on a global stage too. Strategies and motives vary, but underlying themes are attacks on the arts, humanities and social sciences by those who are flagrantly ignorant of what we do;
  • Finally, we are with you! Your plight touches us all because the past matters to us all, shaping our present and guiding our future. We cannot let this situation unfold without a fight.
Protest sign – used with permission

You can watch the entire event here: I speak at just over the 2 hour mark: blob: