Shoe Concealment and Interdisciplinarity at TAG


If anyone is going to be at the Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) conference in Bradford next week, you might be interested in the session: ‘Blurring the Boundaries: Interdisciplinary perspectives on archaeology’, organised by Sarah Morton and Stephen O’Brien, to be held on the morning of Wednesday 16th December (programme here). I’ll be giving a paper entitled: ‘If the (concealed) shoe fits: The logical pairing of archaeology and folklore’, and will be talking about – as you might have guessed – shoe concealment.

The line-up for the session looks fantastic, with speakers hailing from a wide range of disciplines:

Artur Ribeiro: ‘Philosophy and archaeology: an underrated relation’

Owen Hatherley: ‘Reconstruction and Stalinism: historical fakery, populism and capital in the Soviet Bloc’

Marie Fox: ‘Automating causal explanations of observed features using temporal planning’

Torgrim Guttormsen: The idea of the carnivalesque: a theoretical approach for public archaeology?

Phillip Tonner: Reflections on a thesis: the dwelling perspective: Heidegger, archaeology and the Palaeolithic origins of human mortality’

David Jennings: ‘The Manchester’s Improving Daily Project: re-interpreting the Manchester ballads using archaeology and reggae’

Natalie Zhuravska: ‘Text and matter intertwined: testing interdisciplinarity on the case of inscribed stirrup jars’

Jamie Cameron et al.: ‘Challenges and opportunities in the interdisciplinary study of religious relics’

The abstract for my paper reads: “If I had to label myself – and academic trend suggests that I do – I would employ the term ‘folklore archaeologist’. This is an innocuous enough pairing with a simple meaning: basically, I study folkloric beliefs and customs through their material manifestations. Yet this term has been met with blank looks and raised eyebrows, with more than a few fellow archaeologists advising me against employment of the word ‘folklore’, which appears to have become an academic taboo in some disciplines.

However, such a pairing is far from unreasonable. While ‘folklore archaeology’ may not be an officially recognised academic title, the two subjects have a long history of affiliation, and it is the purpose of this paper to demonstrate the value – indeed, the logic – of employing methodologies from both folklore and archaeology in elucidating the material manifestations of popular beliefs. Arguments and theories will be drawn from my own experiences researching the post-medieval custom of shoe concealment, whereby shoes were enigmatically employed as domestic apotropaic devices.”





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