One of the things that I wanted to do with Notes From the Apotheke was to amplify the voices and contributions of BIPOC scholars in ancient Mediterranean studies, at all levels and from all backgrounds.BIPOC in the field are invited to reflect on what brought them to studying the ancient world, as well as offer their opinions on the future of the discipline and share any work they are especially proud of or excited about.
The series is back with a much-appreciated contribution by Najee Olya, a PhD candidate in Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of Virginia.
If you’re an archaeologist, the fact that you spend your summers working in a foreign country has probably often been (mis)interpreted as a leisurely vacation.
Don’t get me wrong – working in Greece for four to eight weeks of the year *is* something I am privileged to be able to experience. But it’s still work. And working five or six days a week in the heat of the day takes its toll, mentally and physically, after a while.
Many people have already recognized this, and schedule in a vacation at some point during their trip. I, on the other hand, have been coming to Greece for six summers and have not once taken any time to myself.
This year, however, I had a little extra time in Athens and thought, “Hey, what the hell? No time like the present.”
For those of you who are new here, the hidden curriculum includes a set of things we’re expected to know how to do, from attending a conference for the first time to applying for funding to going on the job market, without actually being taught them. This month’s installment is all about research trips since I’m on my own trip right now!
Embarking on your very first research trip can feel overwhelming. It’s a long, tedious process with a lot of moving parts – no wonder I’ve gotten so many questions about it! In this post, I’m going to help you get started on that process.
In particular, I’ll show you exactly how to start applying for study permits and contacting the museums you want to visit.
I think we can all agree that January is the Monday of the year. It didn’t really hit me until I started grad school and realized that there are a lot of things that happen in January. The biggest thing: funding application deadlines.
William Sanders Scarborough Fellowship (ASCSA). This fellowship provides support for graduate students, faculty, and independent scholars in North America whose diverse experiences and backgrounds are underrepresented at the American School, and whose studies, research, or teaching would benefit from residency at the School. (15 January 2022)
Point Scholarship. The Point Foundation (Point) is the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students of merit. Point Foundation considers many factors when assessing scholarship applicants, including academic performance, leadership skills, financial need, personal goals and the applicant’s involvement in the LGBTQ community. (26 January 2022)
Rudolph Masciantonio CAMWS Diversity Award (CAMWS). Awardees will be those whom the profession or life circumstances or societal structures have limited in their access to the study of our field. Awarded each year to one undergraduate and one graduate student. (31 January 2022)
Historically Underrepresented Groups Scholarship. The Historically Underrepresented Groups Scholarship (HUGS) intends to increase recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities obtaining degrees in archaeology. Graduate and undergraduate students. (31 January 2022)
Native American Scholarships Fund (NASF). An endowment established to foster a sense of shared purpose and positive interaction between archaeologists and Native Americans. It supports the Arthur C. Parker Scholarship for Archaeological Training for Native Americans and the SAA Native American Undergraduate and Graduate Archaeology Scholarships. Undergraduate and graduate student funding. (31 January 2022)
I think we can all agree that this year was not all that much better than 2020. I don’t know if anyone expected it to be better. But I feel like the vibes were pretty much the same, even though starting this blog gave me some hope that things would change.
As always, however, many people have tried to look on the bright side of things.
They’ve sought the light in the almost overwhelming darkness.
I think in particular of one thread going around last week that asked people to share their 3 biggest accomplishments of the year:
A lot of people made light of this – and that’s understandable. Sometimes the only way to get through the hard things is to find a way to laugh about it.
But I think it’s good to stop sometimes and really appreciate the wins, no matter how big or small.
I struggle with doing this myself, and thought that a little celebratory post was in order here. And what, exactly, am I celebrating?
The one year anniversary of this little blog.
If you listened to the podcast episode I was featured on last week, then you’ll know that I started Notes from the Apotheke exactly one year ago.
After giving myself a solid pep talk, I finally sat down and listened to the latest episode of Proofing and Lies – featuring me – and guess what? I loved it!
It felt almost like reliving the whole experience of being interviewed all over again.
In the episode I talk about my dissertation research on pottery and drinking in ancient Greece, my experiences doing archaeological fieldwork, and why I started this blog.
If these are topics you want to hear more about, check out the episode!
If I’m being totally honest, being invited to give an interview for a podcast was both exciting and totally scary for me.
As I mention in the interview, I’m a pretty big introvert. On top of that, I usually avoid talking about my work like the plague.
I was nervous up until about ten minutes before the interview.
But I was calmed by two things. First, the fact that it really was just like a conversation (and the host was super nice). Second, remembering all of the advice I received when I asked folks on Twitter to help me out.
Here are the three pieces of advice that helped me the most:
This one was SO helpful.
Not just for trying to anticipate what topics would come up, but also for making sure I had some relevant examples on hand when they did.
I did ask about editing ahead of time, but in the end I don’t think anything (or very much besides an extra long pause I took when I needed to think) was edited out.
It honestly didn’t even occur to me to ask in the moment.
But this is definitely something worth keeping in mind!
I had water by me, even though I only took one sip the entire conversation.
I don’t know if I remembered to smile while I was speaking, but I was doing a lot of gesticulation (because that’s just what happens when I get excited). Close enough?
Proofing and Lies
Proofing and Lies is a podcast hosted by Elle Rochford and Andrew Schriver. In each episode the co-hosts talk about current events and take on a new baking project.
Want to check out the episode I’m featured in? It’s currently available on both Apple and Spotify!
One of the things that I wanted to do with Notes From the Apotheke was to amplify the voices and contributions of BIPOC scholars in ancient studies, at all levels and from all backgrounds.BIPOC in the field are invited to reflect on what brought them to studying the ancient world, as well as offer their opinions on the future of the discipline and share any work they are especially proud of or excited about.
This month’s installment of the BIPOC feature series is written by my good friend and colleague Machal Gradoz!
It should be unsurprising to anyone who knows me when I say that fieldwork plays a big role in my success as an academic. This is because I’m an archaeologist who specializes in ancient Greece. My fieldwork requires me to travel abroad for several weeks to months at a time each year, usually in the summer.
I am very sad that I haven’t gone to Greece in nearly two years. The reluctance of some of my colleagues to cancel field projects and research trips in light of the ever-changing COVID situation has also been surprising.
I get it, I do. The last year was a total setback for many archaeological projects, including my own. My dissertation has taken a new path thanks to the fact that I couldn’t do fieldwork last summer, despite my best laid plans.
But is getting that dissertation done or that excavation going more important than the lives of the people who live in your destination country?
The answer should be simple: no, it’s not.
The challenges to admitting this are many. It’s no secret that many programs and departments have grappled with how to deal with funding and time to degree for those of us whose research got derailed by the pandemic.
Some places, such as at Michigan, have found ways to support students needing extra time to finish, which lessens the burden on students scrambling to secure support elsewhere. However, I know this isn’t the case everywhere.
I bet we’ve all heard at least once in the past year that “your worth isn’t tied to your productivity.” The idea is that you shouldn’t let your work consume you to the point of burnout, which negatively affects all aspects of your health.
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.
It’s easy to say that “your worth isn’t tied to your productivity,” but much, much harder to put that idea into practice.
This is especially true when we’re inundated daily with posts on social media that make us feel like we aren’t doing enough, even when we feel good about the (quality and quantity of) work we’re doing.
As we enter grad school interview season, it’s time to think about some questions that you should be asking on your (virtual) visits.
These questions are primarily ones BIPOC prospective students should have in mind. I know that in light of the recent discourse sparked by a NYT op-ed featuring Prof. Dan-el Padilla Peralta, they might be uncertain about continuing their academic journey.
These are also questions I wish I’d asked years ago during my own grad school interviews. But I believe these are generally important questions to ask for anyone who has a serious, invested interest in reforming the field.
A Change in Perspective
The recent #ClassicsTwitter discourse shows that our problems can’t (and won’t) be solved overnight. Those of us who offer critiques are painted as fatalists. We want to “burn it all down” with (they assume) no regard for the future of the field or the people within it.
In the intervening months I have become a little more optimistic about the future of Classics. Despite the near-constant debates about how exactly the field should be reformed – and, no, I don’t want to talk about potential name changes – I continue to love what I study. I made this blog for other BIPOC in Classics, ancient history, and archaeology who also love what they study, even if they hate the racist, elitist underpinnings of the discipline.
I don’t want to discourage BIPOC students from continuing their studies in grad school. But I don’t want them to blindly join a program (or field) that will be detrimental to their well-being, either.
I believe now that everyone should be able to make their own, informed choice about entering or leaving the field. In that vein, here are just a few questions relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion that you should be asking during a grad school interview.