“I painted him as a monument”: Public Art as Protest in Detroit

Kaeleigh Herstad (US)

This photo essay documents and explores recent public art in made in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in Detroit, Michigan. These works of art—which range from informal yard signs to large-scale installations and commissioned works—connect Detroit to national discourse around police brutality by memorializing and honoring Black Detroiters killed by police alongside other, more recent victims of police violence elsewhere in the United States. They are often in conversation with other memorials in the city, and they express collective grief, anger, support, exhaustion, and hope and encouragement for the future.

This essay will examine how these recent public works of art engage with Detroit’s legacy of racism and police brutality against Black residents. What does it mean to, as one artist put it, paint someone not as a person, but as a monument? And finally, how do these issues relate to and intersect with other ongoing forms of violence against Black residents, such as the disinvestment in and wide-scale demolition of Black neighborhoods and gentrification?

Click here to read the photo essay

festivalCHAT on Instagram

Jaime Almansa Sanchez (Spain) , Susan Keitumetse (Botswana), Laura McAtackney (Denmark), Nota Pantzou (Greece)

Join festivalCHAT on Instagram by sharing your thoughts, feelings and experiences on the following themes:

The archaeology of festivals

COVID-19 pandemic

Equality & Diversity

Decolonializing contemporary & historical archaeology

Archaeologies of protest

Togetherness & Fragmentation


Steps to follow:

> Follow chatarchaeology on Instagram

> Upload your pictures and videos on Instagram between 23-30 October.

> Tag your photo/video with #festivaCHAT2020 and indicate the theme.

> Don’t forget to add a caption. Just a few words about your picture i.e. location, a quote, a poem.

> All entries will be shared on CHAT’s Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Hulme Cavalry Barracks and the Peterloo Massacre: Digging the 19th Century Reaction to Protest

Michael Nevell (UK)

Barracks Park (also known as St George’s Park) in Hulme, central Manchester, England, was excavated as part of the Dig Greater Manchester community archaeology project in July 2013. The park was seen as a key site for the project since it contained the remains of Hulme Barracks, a 19th century cavalry base established in 1792 and closed in 1915 that was used during the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. It was also a class of military site that had been little studied within North West England, being used as a base for both for policing the local industrial population and recruiting them for the British Army. The early history of the barracks is poorly recorded but between 1817 and 1895 the barracks were occupied by twenty-seven regiments in succession. This podcast looks at the background history of the site, especially its role in the Peterloo protest and massacre, the surviving remains as excavated in 2013 by the Dig Greater Manchester community archaeology project, and the wider context of this 19th century military type site.

Listen to this podcast

Gold Rush Archaeology and Environmental Crises

Susan Lawrence (Australia)

The global gold rush of the mid-nineteenth century is the stuff of legend and romantic nostalgia. It was also a time of unprecedented environmental crises. Archaeological research in Victoria, Australia, has uncovered new evidence of a forgotten catastrophe. Thick layers of alluvium on floodplains are the consequence of unregulated dumping of industrial waste and rivers that ran thick with sludge for two generations. The story of how it got there and what was done to stop it is a lesson of hope, persistence, and the triumph of community activism.

La Trobe Archaeology Videos for festivalCHAT.

Instagram: @drpastplaces

33 Days of Utopia

Attila Dézsi and Roswitha Ziegler (Germany)

Live Q&A event on Tuesday 27 October 19:00-20:00 CET (18:00-19:00 GMT).

During an archaeological research project on an anti-nuclear protest camp, a team of filmmakers, archaeologists and contemporary witnesses documented their perspectives on archaeology of the recent past as well as their own heritage. In 1980, activists at a former protest camp near Gorleben in Germany blocked the test drilling ground for a nuclear waste storage facility. At the same time, the so-called “Free Republic of Wendland,” as the protest camp was known, became the location for a range of social experiments in how to live an alternative lifestyle. The collective experience of a ‘lived utopia’ and the use of alternative energy technologies changed the lives of the protesters and the green movement in general.

The filmmakers interviewed witnesses about their memories and emotions connected to the site, while the archaeologists tapped into the materiality of the formation of utopia. During this collaborative project, the thread of the nuclear waste facility lingered; Germany has not yet decided where to put its nuclear waste.

We will air the trailer of the film, followed by a live Q&A event with the filmmakers and archaeologists.


Book your place below!