Techno-politics of the interoperability of archaeological data (work)

Submitted by Isto Huvila on Tue, 03/08/2022 - 07:47

Presentation at the Session: 028 - TECHNO-POLITICS OF INTEROPERABILITY of the EASST 2022 conference.


Archaeological investigations produce large amounts of data on annual basis around the world. The material is extremely heterogeneous. It differs by country, region, investigation project and the age of documentation. It consists regularly of textual, visual and numeric information and is generally standardised to a highly varying degree. A lot of effort and resources have been invested to make this heterogeneous material accessible and available for research and public use — and to make local information systems and individual datasets interoperable with each other as a part of national and international data infrastructures to allow larger-scale analyses and to promote trustworthy and transparent processing of the data as a public good.

This presentation inquires into the underpinnings of the struggles of making of the interoperability of archaeological information systems and datasets to happen on the basis of empirical research conducted in the context of a larger ERC-funded research project CAPTURE on the documentation of archaeological and scholarly informationmaking. The findings suggest that (the lack of) interoperability is a product of techno-politics of a much large constellation actants than a mere struggle of establishing and negotiating appropriate data standards and developing and deploying technical infrastructures for archaeological data. While much of the contemporary efforts focus on advancing the interoperability of data infrastructures and datasets by harmonisation and standardisation, much of the issues relating to their perceived lack of interoperability can be traced back to the (lack of) hospitality of different varieties of archaeological datawork—in different countries and regions, in different times, epistemologies, thought-collectives, stages of archaeological information process and beyond—and their underpinning techno-politics.