On the first day of my MA Historical Archaeology (University of Bristol, 2003/4), I started reading a gem of a book called ‘In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life’, by James Deetz (1930-2000). It honestly changed how I saw the world.
While we might now see a problem with the use of the term ‘early American’ (I mean, there were already people living in what we call America a lot earlier than the periods discussed in the book), I think it remains, along with books such as ‘Ways of Seeing’ by John Berger, one of the most formative, brilliant books, relevant to the study of historical (and contemporary) archaeology. I never had the pleasure of meeting Professor Deetz in person but I have heard from all sorts of people – male and female, black and white, young and old – that he was a gentleman, and also a gentle man, that he was humble about his brilliance as a scholar; also, that he loved to drink bourbon and played mean Bluegrass! I have no doubt that we we would surely have got along very well!
So, with this in mind, it is even more of an honour that my book, ‘Homeless Heritage’ has been awarded the 2019 Society of Historical Archaeology’s James Deetz Book Award. It is especially pleasing to me that the Deetz Award commends books that are, “classics for professional archaeologists as well as for non-specialists. Deetz’s accessible and entertaining style of writing gave his books influence beyond the discipline because they are read by a broad audience of non-specialists. The Deetz Award is intended to recognize books and monographs that are similarly well written and accessible to all potential readers.” (SHA website). Because, who’d want to write a book that only 4 academics and your mum read?
Looking forward to collecting the prize at this year’s annual conference of the Society of Historical Archaeology, in Missouri in January 2019. For more details about the conference, see here sha.org/conferences