Understanding archaeological authority in a digital context

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19 Citations (Scopus)


"...with the increasing spread of social media and mobile communication, the social networks of knowledge construction are becoming not only vastly bigger and quicker and less limited by space and time constraints than they have been before, but also more of a threat to established authorities." (Hofheinz 2011, 1426) This article considers the issues of archaeological authority, expertise and organisational reputation in the UK from an online perspective, and questions whether the participatory promise of social media technologies can, and should, challenge archaeological authority. It explores how these issues are approached and mediated online, the issues of digital literacy for audience reception, and the approaches used by archaeological organisations to address the challenges of undertaking digital public archaeology projects whilst maintaining archaeological rigour and the visible performance of expertise. It discusses how the concepts of archaeological authority and expertise are demonstrated and practised online, using data from my doctoral research, undertaken from 2011 to 2013. This article questions if the presence of websites dedicated to the promulgation of alternative archaeologies on the Internet can present challenges for the performance of archaeological expertise online, and how organisations monitor and respond to alternative archaeological interpretations and news stories.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternet Archaeology
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Digital literacy
  • Expertise
  • Internet studies
  • Multi-vocality
  • Online authority
  • Participation

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