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Name: Jodie Hannis

PhD: Archaeology

Department: School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester

Thesis Title: Creative Interventions in Archaeology: Experiments in Facilitating Public Engagement with Archaeological Research


Thesis Description:

My project aims to explore creative interventions in the production of archaeological and heritage research in order to reflect critically of the value of public engagement activities. It will facilitate collaborative activities between researchers and artists by experimenting with interventions such as dance, spoken word poetry, theatre, and visual arts in order to find innovative ways of creating heritage research with non-academic communities. By staging case study events where such work is showcased, I will use qualitative research methods to generate data from the researchers, artists and audiences involved in order to analyse the impact of such activities and reflect on how the participants valued these processes. This will take the form of observations, interviews and questionnaires, revolving around perceived value of the case study events, responses to the research that has been shared, and individual’s feelings of their own sense of cultural heritage. My project is ethnographic in nature and emphasises positive social change by making research more widely accessible to diverse audiences.

In HE institutions, public engagement activities are well established and 'impact' is high on the agenda. There is debate about the value of ‘impact’ and whether we should be resisting such measures where they exist within neoliberal and overly quantitative frameworks. At the same time, Archaeology’s reach and reception with the public is, arguably, patchy and unfocussed. Engagement must be genuinely accessible in order to challenge notions that archaeologists are, at best, the stewards of the material past or at worse, its owners. I will explore here how useful the idea of measuring impact is, and whether we can do so in ways that are genuinely radical and inclusive. Can we reappropriate the impact agenda for public engagement programmes of creative collaboration and co-creation?

By moving archaeological research out of institutional spaces and into local performance space, it is hoped that a different kind of public engagement will occur, with non-academic communities not simply acting as audiences to research but as active participants. I aim to produce a framework for analysing non-academic engagement and measuring research impact and to generate a model for best practice within Archaeology and across academic research more broadly. 

The project will consider what kinds of archaeological knowledge are most relevant to people today; for example, issues such as localism, multiculturalism, gender, sexuality and migration. The objective is to establish that if archaeology does have a responsibility to be accessible to the public, does it also need to be willing to contribute to the discourses that surround living people today?


Supervisors and Institution(s): Deirdre O'Sullivan (University of Leicester) and Dr John Carman (University of Birmingham) 


Other Research Interests:

  • Early medieval period
  • Archaeological theory
  • Practice-based research
  • Performance studies
  • Non-textual representation in research
  • The body through time
  • 'Landscape' and the perception of the environment
  • Phenomenology and relational ontologies
  • Psychogeography 
  • Re-use of ancient monuments through history


A bit about me:

I am also a writer and spoken word artist performing regularly in Leicester, throughout the Midlands, and beyond. My research project is significantly informed by this as I regularly experience the power that creative performance can have in conveying complex feelings and messages in a straight forward way. I also recognise the value in providing accessible and non-hierarchical spaces for others to explore their own creative ideas, especially if they have never done so before. I hope to continue developing my work as a writer and performer throughout my PhD project and look forward to exploring the ways my creative and academic practice can inform each other in valuable and exciting ways. 



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