Professional Utopianism and Administrative Naiveté. Uncertainty and Archaeology in the Shipwrecks of Pisa (1998-20??) (Appendix)
12 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 28, 2017
This paper is an appendix to our chapter of the same name, published in the Oxford Handbook of Public Heritage Theory and Practice (Neil Silberman and Angela Labrador, editors, Oxford, 2017). Our chapter examines the organizational dynamics that emerged from the 1998 discovery of a group of well-preserved Roman shipwrecks in Pisa, Italy. Known as the Navi di Pisa (‘ships of Pisa’), the shipwrecks are globally important finds, but also highly fragile, requiring costly conservation interventions and access to extensive technical expertise. The excavation, conservation, and museification of the finds have now stretched over 20 years and represent an extremely complex example of organizational activity.
Due to limitations of space, empirical data had to be kept to a minimum in our chapter. But as qualitative researchers with an interest in heritage organizations, our research has an ethnographic flavor, a sort of organizational ethnography (Brannan et al., 2012), in which interesting research questions tend to emerge during field research, or even after its completion (Zan 2013) – as is often the case with qualitative research. We disagree with frequently-heard critiques that such research constitutes mere “description”, as if reconstructing the sequence and contents events and complex processes were not fundamental to both theory and practice. We find that the process of ‘reconstructing’ the story of a complex project is valuable in itself, since we care about the empirical situation being examined – quite apart from the possibility of wider generalizations and implications.
Keywords: Management, Decision Making, Uncertainty, Preventive Archaeology, Professional Optimism, Bureaucratic Myopia, Urban Planning
JEL Classification: M, Z1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation