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FABLE and Decolonization Talk: Dr. Alan Farahani
January 21 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Mission Oriented Archaeological Research and the Role of Open Source Tools
Abstract: Archaeological research, like other field sciences, has teamwork at the core of its practice. While archaeologists and some anthropologists have written about method and theory in field research, relatively less focus has been given to the social dynamics experienced within these teams themselves (with important and overdue recent exceptions regarding harassment and bullying). In this talk, I will argue that archaeologists ought to give equal consideration to the organizational and decision-making structure of archaeological team-based research. First, I will present a brief summary of common themes from interviews I have conducted with individuals who took part in the NASA mission to the asteroid Bennu, NOAA expedition to the Arctic ice pack, or have long experience in the video game industry (ex-Riot, thatgamecompany). I argue that despite obvious differences, there are core commonalities between what I am calling creative-scientific and high-risk mission oriented enterprises dependent on teamwork for success. Second, I will show how open source platforms, such as the kind I am developing in my consulting work as SciScope Solutions, can play a role in fostering more of a “mission oriented” approach among team-members by making data accessible and transparent regardless of expertise. Finally, I conclude by highlighting some of the successes and current structural limitations of this approach, and invite feedback and discussion.
Bio: Dr. Alan Farahani is an anthropological archaeologist whose research interests revolve around the long-term socio-political, environmental, and ecological consequences of agriculture throughout the Holocene. To investigate these topics he specializes in the analysis of archaeological plant remains, or paleoethnobotany, as well as the analysis and visualization of data using contemporary computing languages and platforms (Python, R, SQL, etc.). Geographically and temporally his research has concentrated on Holocene Eurasia, with emphasis on west Asia (Jordan, Armenia, Iraqi Kurdistan), but has also conducted related fieldwork or analysis world-wide (Philippines, Spain, California, Tunisia, El Salvador).