Playing with Monsters

Playing with Monsters
Wednesday, October 7, 2020 12:00 PM
Archaeology Center

View Recording Here

Monsters, in their sensuous, ambivalent, in-betweeness, can be an expression of creative impulse, subversion, of evidence of play within archaeology. Braidotti’s monsters “represent the in between, the mixed, the ambivalent…(the) horrible and wonderful, object of aberation and adoration.” Digital interventions are Frankenstein’s monsters, lurching somewhere between Tringham’s “faceless blobs” and an idealized ontological collective—networked and multi-faceted but still oddly homogenous. Archaeological monsters are a human and unhuman aggregate, one that digital archaeologists should recognize as we practice assembling, as Haraway states, “articulations among cosmos, animal, human, machine, and landscape in their recursive sidereal, bony, electronic, and geological skeletons.” In this lecture I discuss a monstrous digital archaeology, confounding our senses, invoking joy as a form of resistance and inviting playful interventions.


Colleen Morgan received her PhD at the University of California, Berkeley in 2012. This PhD, “Emancipatory Digital Archaeology” examined the intersections of digital media and archaeology through a series of object biographies with my advisors Ruth Tringham, Margaret Conkey, and Nancy Van House. She has worked as both a field archaeologist and a digital specialist in the USA (Hawaii, California, Texas), England, Turkey, Jordan, Greece, Oman and Qatar on sites ranging from 9,000 to 100 years old. She joined the Department of Archaeology at York in 2013 as a Marie Curie Experienced Researcher for the EUROTAST project and was appointed the Lecturer in Digital Archaeology and Heritage in 2017. She co-directs the Digital Archaeology MSc and Digital Heritage MSc programmes.

Dr Morgan’s research is on digital media and archaeology, with a special focus on embodiment, avatars, genetics and bioarchaeology. She is interested in building archaeological narratives with emerging technology, including photography, video, mobile and locative devices. Through archaeological making she explores past lifeways and our current understanding of heritage, especially regarding posthumanism and the cyborg, feminism, and interstitial spaces between past and present

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