Regular readers of this blog will know that I’ve hosted a few guest posts and an interview with Stuart Rathbone, a friend and an archaeologist who has worked across the UK, Ireland, and the United States of America, and that his posts are always thought-provoking and informative. I’m very happy to announce on this site that Stuart has now released a new book of essays digitally published by The Oculus Obscura Press (which is under the auspices of the awesome blogger and researcher Robert M Chapple) entitled Archaeological Boundaries: Discussions, Experiments and Unprovoked Attacks.
The publication is available from the LeanPub website, which offers the book for readers based on a sliding scale payment system which can range from zero to whatever sum the reader would like to give to Stuart for his hard work (the suggested price for this volume is US $18.99, but please feel free to pay as appropriate).
I’m really excited by this publication as Stuart is a thoughtful and innovative thinker and, as demonstrated in this volume, he skillfully integrates the archaeological evidence within contexts and approaches that aren’t always particularly widely studied within the research or academic arms of archaeology. Thankfully we have the man himself to ask him a few questions regarding the book…
These Bones of Mine (TBOM): Hi Stuart, thank you so much for joining me! So can you tell us a little about your new book?
Stuart: Hi David, thanks for having me back on your blog. I love that I can legitimately say things to you like “I haven’t seen you since that time with the jazz band on Haight Ashbury” as if we were part of some decadent international jet set! Funnily enough I do briefly mention the time we met up in the introduction to the new book, but I think I forget to mention that the mundane reason why we were hanging out in San Francisco was because of an archaeology conference!
My book is a collection of essays, some of which have appeared before in various places, and some of which are brand new pieces. I think a little over half of the material is entirely new, whilst the older stuff has been given a good polish, adding in proper reference sections if they were previously absent, re-inserting parts that might originally have been omitted because of space constraints, or adding in new information that has become available since a piece was first published, bringing everything right up to date.
There’s a video where I describe the different subjects covered in the book so I won’t repeat all of that here, suffice to say the book is a mixture of different areas I have worked in; different aspects of prehistoric settlement, the organisation of the archaeological profession and the social consequences this may have for practitioners, and my attempts to explore new and unusual theoretical approaches. The scope probably goes a bit beyond what you’d normally expect to find in an academic collection. I suppose there’s an emphasis on more personal pieces and more experimental pieces, although there are a few more traditional inclusions, just to balance things out a bit.
Working with Robert Chapple was great because he’s so open to new ideas. I don’t think we could have put this collection out with a normal publisher, but Robert just said go for it, write what you want and we’ll see what we can do with it. In fairness to him he did have to spend quite a lot of time keeping me on target, as I am prone to wandering off a bit if left to my own devices. We both really like the finished product, I guess it’s the sort of book we would enjoy reading ourselves. So now we have the problem of trying to convince other people to read it. The leanpub platform is great because it’s very simple to use and with the price slider it’s possible for people to get a free copy, pay the suggested price, or pay anything in between.
Something you said to me recently really struck a chord, that people are now simply overwhelmed by the amount of information that is freely available to them, and it’s hard to get their attention.
So right now we are trying to figure out how to convince people that they should download the book and devote their free time to reading it. That was a responsibility that Robert and I were very aware of when we put the book together. Just because we were enjoying ourselves the book still had to meet a professional standard, even if some of the content was a bit unorthodox. I think we’ve done that although obviously it will be up to the people that read it to judge how successful we actually were. We certainly did try though. There’s quite a variety of topics so hopefully a lot of different readers could find something of interest to them, or that might at least keep them amused for a little while.
- Archaeological Boundaries. Discussions, Experiments and Unprovoked Attacks can be downloaded from Leanpub.com by following this link.
- Stuart has previously been interviewed for this blog (see View from the Trenches), where you can read about his archaeological life, from his experiences and views as a digger working in Ireland during the Celtic Tiger boom years, to excavating in northern Scotland and his adventures in writing about archaeological topics from a number of different perspectives. Alternatively you can check out a previous guest post here, where Stuart marries the archaeological record with anarchist theory suggesting that a better understanding of the record can be achieved by taking elements from ideologies or theories little used in mainstream commercial and academic archaeology.
- Check out Robert M Chapple’s blogging site for a treasure trove of insights into the archaeological record of Ireland. Of particular interest is his database and catalogue of Irish radiocarbon determinations and dendrochronological dates from archaeological sites from throughout the island, which can be visualised and investigated here. Please contact Robert for the latest up-to-date version as it really is a splendid piece of research and data mining.
Rathbone, S. 2016. Archaeological Boundaries: Discussions, Experiments and Unprovoked Attacks. Belfast: The Oculus Obscura Press. (Open Access).