Cite this as: Hardy, S. (2015). Resistance to Precarious Archaeological Labour, Internet Archaeology 39. http://dx.doi.org/10.11141/ia.39.4
Insecurity and unemployment lead to a major risk of anxiety and depression (Stuckler and Basu 2013, 111). Unemployed cultural heritage workers across Europe are in the same state: 'desperation [disperazione]' (Marianna 2013); 'hopeless[ness] [umutsuz]' (Çelebi and Erdem 2014); 'despair [çaresizdir]', 'because they cannot do their job, a profession in which they laboured' under the sun during the day, and in the office until late at night, 'for years without pay [Yılarca [sic - yıllarca] karşılıksız emek verdiği mesleğini, yapamadığı için]' (Yağar 2013); 'despair … that estrange[s them] from research, from reading, from passion, from hope [disperare … che mi ha fatto allontanare dalla ricerca, dalla lettura, dalla passione, dalla speranza]' (d'Amore 2013a). And that despair leads to a very real risk of socially dangerous rage and violence: on one occasion, in Egypt, where cultural heritage workers were campaigning for 'real jobs [and] better pay' (Teijgeler 2013), a 'mob of unemployed archaeologists' stormed the Ministry of Antiquities (Waghorn 2011).
Grounded in case studies of archaeological labour analysis and activism through social media in the UK, Italy and Turkey, this article considers the effectiveness or otherwise of blogging and micro-blogging in (would-be) professional archaeologists' movements against unpaid labour and unemployment. Drawing out the interplay between those groups' economic and political circumstances, their archaeological education and experience, and their social media activity, this article demonstrates how social media has functioned (or malfunctioned) as a tool of professional documentation, analysis and resistance.
Cultural heritage workers have not only organised themselves and directly confronted the structures that make and keep them poor and vulnerable, they have also managed their everyday insecurity, political (mis)representation and public (mis)understanding through blogging their experience of unemployment and precarious work.
Professione Archeologo [the Archaeologist's Profession] (2013) is a group blog, which was established to network young archaeologists in or from Italy, in order that they could share experiences, discuss problems and seek solutions. There, 'since [she does] not work to volunteer [dal non lavoro al volontariato]', Antonia Falcone (2013a) has written 'chronicles of bondage [chronache di una schiavitù]'. Likewise, Alessandro d'Amore has been searingly honest about the experience of unemployment. When he reached the point of despair, he explained that 'what's even worse than not finding work is stopping looking for it [La cosa ancora peggiore che non trovare lavoro è smettere di cercarlo]' (d'Amore 2013a).
When he had picked himself up, begun looking for work again and applied for a fixed-term contract as a technical assistant – a job for which he was overqualified – d'Amore blogged the application process: 'for Italy, I am worth 9 points out of 30 [per l'Italia valgo 9 punti su 30]', less than half the minimum points that he needed to be eligible for shortlisting. 'I do not think that I will be able to do anything else anymore, to bear other attempts… or perhaps, I should say, humiliations [non penso di essere più in grado di fare altro, di sostenere altri tentativi … o forse dovrei dire, umiliazioni]' (d'Amore 2014).
Çağrı Yağar (2013) started his blog with 'the story of thousands of archaeologists [Binlerce arkeoloğun hikayesi]' in Turkey: unpaid work, then unemployment. It is particularly galling because, theoretically, he and his colleagues perform unpaid work in order to get the qualifications and experience to be able to get paid work; practically, so many trainees perform so much unpaid work that would-be employers do not need to pay many workers at all.
The tiny minority of employed professionals (who have often been exploited as unpaid labourers themselves) instruct the massive majority of would-be workers, 'do not despair, with a lot of passion, research and drive the dream can become a reality. But if you're not willing to put the extra work in now then this may not be the industry for you' (Cox 2014). 'If you want it badly enough your perseverance will pay off' (Rawden 2013).
Resistance means establishing that such statements are untrue, that the order is not meritocratic but unjust. Yet even charitable cultural heritage institutions will not tell the truth about (the lack of) cultural heritage work, because their operations are dependent upon a continued supply of unpaid labour (cf. Hardy 2013b; 2013c; 2013d). 'You will probably not get paid work in the museum sector' (Hardy 2013g). Blogging and micro-blogging enable the unemployed to present narratives that challenge the derogatory naturalisation of unemployment, and that undermine any misleading encouragement of acquiescence to unpaid labour.
Heritage tourism is the fifth-largest industry in the UK, generates £20b per year (Culture24 2010) and has outperformed the market through the crash (VisitEngland 2013). However, 30% of archaeological jobs have been lost through the crisis (Aitchison and Rocks-Macqueen 2013, 44). Even before the crisis (between 1998 and 2006), voluntary workers constituted the majority of the workforce (ranging from 53% to 63%) and paid workers were increasingly being put in precarious positions as temporary, part-time and/or seasonal labourers (Greenwood 2007; Greenwood and Maynard 2005, 3; 2006, 4; Hagedorn-Saupe and Ermert 2004, 119, 154). Since then, there have been closures, redundancies (Newman and Tourle 2011, 3), reductions of workers to casual and zero-hour contract labourers (Steel 2013a, 5), and a 'continued increase in unpaid volunteers' (VisitEngland 2013, 6), even the adoption of a 'professional volunteer model' (Steel 2013b). Thus, although there are secure workers in the cultural heritage profession, they are secure workers in an insecure profession; even excluding unpaid labour, the majority of the workforce are insecurely employed or underemployed.
Unpaid interns are exploited en masse: for example, there are at least 19 at a time at the National Trust, where they work 15-30 hours or two to five days a week for at least six months, and at least 24 at a time at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where they work 28 hours over four days a week for at least six months. There are paid apprentices at many institutions, too. However, these flagship apprenticeships, for which candidates require postgraduate qualifications and prior experience to be considered, and which even then receive between 100 and 300 applications for every place (Atkinson 2013; Steel 2012), do 'not lead to any opportunity of continuing employment' in those workplaces (Lingyi, cited in Arts Award Voice 2013); 25% of those elite apprentices cannot find paid work elsewhere in the cultural sector (Andalo 2013). Even part-time, entry-level vacancies at small institutions receive more than 300 'extremely good applicants' (Bennion 2013).
In the cultural sector, financially secure women are disproportionately exploited as unpaid interns (Schwartz 2013), while financially insecure women and ethnic minorities are disproportionately excluded by their inability to undertake unpaid work (Bright 2011). This exploitative and socially divisive practice is at least partly deliberate. As the anonymous head of an arts organisation asked social mobility charity director Martin Bright (2011), '[w]hy should I take one of your people off the dole when I can get a nice Oxbridge girl for six months for free?'
Addressing this problem, archaeologists very quickly settled on the hashtag, '#freearcheoaology' (Heffer 2013; see also Johnson 2013b). They later considered changing the discussion's hashtag, for instance, to #freeGLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) (Walker 2013a), or #freeAMALGAM (archaeology, museums, archives, libraries, galleries, artists and miscellaneous) (May 2013c). Also suggested were a day conference (May 2013b), a collection of social media commentary (Morgan 2013), a collective Twitter account (Walker 2013b) and a collective blog (Richardson 2013a), as they had suggested a Storify (Jones 2013), 'a conference session, a special issue in a journal or a book' (May 2013a) when the conversation began, but none of them materialised. As the originator of the #freearchaeology discussion (cf. Johnson 2013a; 2013c), Emily Johnson (2014, 149), lamented, 'there was so much more potential for more organised discussion'.
Still, the #freearchaeology discussion became a trending topic in the Museums Journal (Stephenson 2013). It turned the emergent workers' problem into a matter of professional debate, and established the structurally weak student Johnson as 'a spokesperson for change' in that international debate (Perry 2014, 14-15). It also produced a publicly accessible, fine-grain analysis of the political economy of cultural heritage. Microblogging enabled streamlined mass consideration of the areas (not) of concern, which was informed by workers who were experienced in each of those areas; blogging enabled systematic analysis, which was refined by further micro-blogging; the entire process was nationwide, convenient and immediate, as informed analysis progressed by the day, even by the hour. Indeed, when their Ministry of Culture began to use volunteers in the place of staff to run the Night of the Museums (la Notte dei Musei), the Italian anti-exploitation movement began studying the British analysis (Hardy and d'Amore 2013).
As the only blog that has focused on unpaid and otherwise precarious cultural heritage labour in the UK, a basic review of the production and readership of Unfree Archaeology may be informative – though, because some of the material was originally posted on Conflict Antiquities and some of the data relates to unidentified archive pages, the available statistics preclude scientific review.
As well as more traditional sources, the first post alone, on Free Archaeology: Volunteering, Training and Crowdfunding, was directly informed by more than 20 participants in the discussion, who had shared their knowledge across Twitter, blogs and blog comments within a week of the initiation of the conversation (Hardy 2013a). In the year since then, blogging has enabled the production of more than thirty thousand words of analysis of the British situation, and more than thirty thousand words of analysis of the situation in Turkey, all of which has benefited from open peer review of the work-in-progress.
Nonetheless, Unfree Archaeology is viewed fewer than 20 times a day – and around half of its posts address the situation in other countries, around half of its visits concern the situation in other countries, and around half of its visits are made from other countries, so the British material is viewed fewer than 10 times a day. It has triggered discussion on the Facebook page and forum of British Archaeological Jobs and Resources (cf. Connolly 2013; Richardson 2013b), and it has led to an interview with USI Live (Hardy and Pantland 2013), an article in the Institute for Archaeologists' Forum Dispatch (Hardy 2014), and indeed this article. Yet it is difficult to identify any tangible impact of any free archaeology activism on the British situation itself.
Likewise, in Italy, there has been a 20% cut to the archaeological budget (Kington 2012) and a 'constant increase in job insecurity' (Guermandi 2013, 5). The National Association of Archaeologists has long protested against the 'extreme precarity of archaeologists' employment [estrema precarietà di impiego degli archeologi]' (ANA 2008), and it continues to campaign 'against the precarity [contro la precarietà]' of lives spent between long-term unemployment and underpaid work (ANA 2011). The Confederation of Italian Archaeologists (CIA 2013a) is trying to drive unpaid labour 'out of the labour market [al di fuori del mercato del lavoro]' in order to prevent the 'institutionalisation [istituzionalizzazione]' of unpaid work. Within (and with) the ANA, [Women] Archaeologists Who Exist/Resist [Archeologhe Che (R)esistone] are organising to secure their careers and lives in an industry where they endure degrading treatment, unsafe working conditions and economic uncertainty (e.g. Carollo 2012; cf. Guermandi 2013).
As well as markers of industry-wide discussion (e.g. #archeologia, #BbCc [cultural heritage – literally, cultural goods], #cultura) and labour-wide struggle (e.g. #lavoro, #volontariato), Italian cultural heritage workers have used a series of hashtags to organise and advance their struggle; #generazionepro, #no18maggio, #nottedeiprofessionisti, #riconoscimento, #VolontariAChi, #500no, #500schiavi.
The first, simplest campaigning hashtag was the title of the campaign, 'recognition [#riconoscimento]' (cf. Gattiglia 2012). When the Ministry of Culture pleaded its own poverty to excuse the 'use of volunteers to substitute staff [impiego dei volontari in sostituzione del personale]' for the Night of Museums (Notte dei Musei) on 18 May (Massi 2013; see also Hardy and d'Amore 2013), Gabriele Gattiglia (2013a) shared a link to Simone Massi's comment on the 'anachronism of volunteering in archaeology [sull'anacronismo del volontariato in archeologia]' and hashtagged it 'no to the 18th of May (#no18maggio)'.
It was a useful term for activism regarding that event, but cultural heritage workers wanted an organising hashtag that reflected their change 'from generation co.co.co. [Da generazione co.co.co.]', which endured being simultaneously restricted and insecure freelance contractors as 'coordinated continuing collaborators (collaboratori coordinati continuativi)', 'to generation pro.pro.pro [a generazione #pro.pro.pro]', which organised 'protest[s], projects, proposals [protesta, progetti e proposte]' (Romi 2013), or where 'professionals protest proposals [professionisti protesta proposte]' (Gattiglia 2013b).
Archaeologists discussed and agreed the change from the negative #no18maggio to the proactive #generazionepro, with an accompanying meeting on pragmatic action, in about four hours (see the stream of conversation that sprang from Gattiglia 2013b and Romi 2013). Nevertheless, discussion and dissent concerning the displacement of paid workers 'went on for months and months with no results' (Hardy and d'Amore 2013, n1).
Falcone (2013b) established a parallel hashtag when she made a wry professional (re)introduction: 'Antonia F., specialised in archaeological heritage [literally, archaeological goods]. To whom do I volunteer? [Antonia F., specializzata in beni archeologici. Volontaria a chi? #no18maggio #generazionepro #VolontariAChi]'. Similarly, Cristina Carpinelli (2013) highlighted the government's concern to ensure the financial security of its cultural heritage institutions but not its cultural heritage workers, wherein she appealed for a protest on 'the Night of the Professionals [#nottedeiprofessionisti]'.
The Italian anti-exploitation movement has combined analysis and organisation through social media with 'traditional' activism. So, encouraging participation in their section of an international project on Discovering the Archaeologists of Europe – to scientifically demonstrate their standards, status, livelihood and (in)security – the Confederation of Italian Archaeologists (CIA 2013b) cried, 'let's disco … You, too, fill out the questionnaire! [#letsdisco … Riempi anche tu il questionario!]'
Most recently, the Ministry of Culture created ValoreCultura, which was supposedly an opportunity for 500 young trainees/interns (stagisti), but which required its applicants to be qualified, experienced, multilingual workers (d'Amore 2013b; 2013c). In fact, it was one of the government's 'emergency measures [mesure urgenti]' to fill 600 vacancies for cultural heritage workers with 'expertise and professionalism [competenza e professionalità]' (Voltolina 2013). Moreover, the Ministry of Culture initially established it as a full-time programme for below poverty-line – in some regions, illegally low – wages. In response to protests, the Ministry minimally redesigned the initiative as a part-time programme of long-term under-employment (Ichino and Voltolina 2013).
Thus, Falcone (2013c) argued that it was 'necessary to make a bit of a mess, [there are] 500 slaves [serfs] more that work [bisogna fare un pò di casino, #500schiavi altro che lavoro]'. Echoing the original #no18maggio, protest was also organised around the hashtag '500 Nos to the Ministry of Cultural Goods and Activities and Tourism has [#500NO al MiBACT]' (Gattiglia 2013c). The anti-exploitation movement continued to mobilise successfully through social media: it very quickly held a sit-in at the Ministry (Abbracciamo la Cultura et al. 2013). And its combination of analysis and education through blogging, organising by micro-blogging and Twitterstorming, and formal and physical protest has had success.
Over the course of years, all cultural heritage professions campaigned for legal recognition and used social media in their campaigning. As the National Confederation of Professional Archaeologists (Confederazione Nazionale Archeologi Professionisti) explained, recognition was essential in order to protect archaeology from deregulated work, and to rescue archaeologists from being deregulated workers, 'who work in precarious conditions and on contracts at the limit of human dignity [che operano in condizioni precarie e contratti al limite della dignità umana]' (Saponara and de Rosa 2014).
Participants in the legislative process for Chamber Bill 362 on Cultural Heritage Professions (now Senate Law 1249 on Cultural Heritage Professionals), the Confederation of Italian Archaeologists (CIA) managed to prevent the law excluding non-archaeological workers, which would have been 'outside European norms and in fact inapplicable [fuori dalla normativa europea e di fatto inapplicabile]' (Pintucci and Falcone 2013). The Cultural Commission of the Chamber of Deputies subsequently introduced certification into the draft law that was contrary to established professional standards and had not been requested by the professionals (CIA 2013c), but cultural heritage workers' activism drove parliament to withdraw that requirement (Ghizzoni 2014; SRI 2014).
In Turkey, where there is 30% graduate unemployment (Kuzgun 2012), tourism generates TL23b (£7b), and museums and cultural heritage sites earn more than TL280m (£85m) directly from tourists' visits, but archaeology receives just TL23m (£7m). Every year, there are hundreds of excavations that require thousands of workers, but they deploy the country's 8,400 students as unpaid trainees rather than employ any of that year's 2,100 graduates as trained workers.
Between 2009 and 2012, 8,400 archaeology students graduated from university, but only 19 (0.23) were employed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (Erbil 2013). The unemployed workers' frustration is particularly acute in a state where 'it is not very difficult to create employment for tens of thousands of our youth [On binlerce gencimize istihdam yaratmak aslında çok da zor değil]' (Çelebi and Öğreten 2014). While 15 archaeologists were hired by the Ministry in 2013, 3,750 personnel were hired by the Directorate of Religious Affairs.
Moreover, the students are required to perform the work as part of their degrees, so they cannot strike against their unpaid labour without invalidating their education. Archaeology graduates in Turkey are, then, archetypes of 'the graduate with no future' who is 'unable to get a decent job – or indeed any job' (Mason 2013, 66).
Campaigning archaeologists' 'starting points are social media and online platforms [Çıkış noktaları sosyal medya ve sanal ortam olan]' (Selçuk Haber 2013). Unemployed archaeologists lack 'natural' opportunities to engage, network and organise at work. Both unemployed and precariously employed archaeologists are unable to afford conferences and other events (and thereby 'planned' activity on the fringes of those meetings).
Many archaeologists are too horizontal structurally and too spread out geographically to arrange anything more than local activity at tea houses. And others (such as those in Istanbul) are so concentrated that the easiest and most democratic way of initiating and participating in autonomous activism is by means of online communication. Even their direct (or as direct as possible) personal petitioning is online.
While blogging can be a logical and effective way to campaign, it can also be merely an available tool, which is (often) free and simple. For example, the Archaeologists' Employment Platform's action calls and press releases are sent through its spokesperson's Twitter account and personal blog, rather than a branded account or group blog. Its Twitter account (@ArkIstPlatformu) lasted for eleven tweets between 11 June and 5 July 2013, while its recent attempt at an organisational blog consisted of four test images of protest posters published on 24 January 2014 (AİP 2014). However, the lack of an organisational account does not indicate a lack of activity, even on social media.
Direct state censorship and indirect corrupt self-censorship of the mainstream media have driven citizens to document and discuss politically unacceptable truths, and to organise and coordinate action, via social media (Tüfekçi 2013). The state ban on Twitter signalled the service's power, which actually led to circumvention and increased usage (Tüfekçi 2014). And Twitter's temporary, state-ordered deployment of 'country withheld content' (Gadde 2014), wherein content from individual accounts or single tweets were hidden within Turkey, only led to further circumvention and/or the (re)distribution of activity.
The Archaeologists' Employment Platform (Arkeolog İstihdam Platformu) was created to complement the work of the Archaeologists' Union. The short lifespan of the platform's organisational Twitter account may be explained by its ineffectiveness as an organisational voice. 'When we explained our problems directly to our colleague, the Ak Party MP for Van, the Right Honourable Gülşen Orhan, via Twitter …, he contented himself with blocking our account [meslektaşımız olan Ak Parti Van Milletvekili Sayın Gülşen Orhan …, Twitter üzerinden kendisine sorunlarımızı anlattığımızda hesabımızı engellemekle yetindi]' (Çelebi and Öğreten 2014). Official refusal to engage with a representative labour group simply drove the professional community group to (re)distribute its activity.
At the moment, we have nearly 750 members on social media. We have a petition campaign, which has got more than 2,000 signatures, and petitions to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey [parliament] and the Prime Minister's Communication Centre. Every evening, between the hours of 8pm and 1am, our tweet activism continues on Twitter. We are planning to perform an action in Ankara in May.
[Şuanda sosyal medyada 750'ye yakın üyemiz var. 2000'den fazla imzanın atıldığı imza kampanyamız ve TBMM'ne dilekçelerimiz ve BİMER başvurularımız var. Her akşam 20:00-01:00 saatleri arası Twitter'da tweet etkinliğimiz devam ediyor. Mayıs ayında da Ankara'da eylem yapmayı planlıyoruz.' (Çelebi and Erdem 2014)]
The Platform is very active on Twitter, but it also takes the lead in the employment movement's blogging, through which it analyses and explains the cultural heritage economy in Turkey (e.g. AİP 2013; cf. Kayıp Kültür Varlıkları 2013; Sarpedon Pasha 2013; Sonsuz Yaşam 2012). While none of the figures would indicate that there was not an employment problem, some of the claims are uncertain and some of the contradictory claims have not been reconciled: for example, it is notable that practically simultaneous, equally unsourced estimates of archaeological unemployment range from 6,000 (Erbil 2013) to 10,000 (AİP 2013).
Its members and allies continue to initiate and participate in actions autonomously, largely via micro-blogging, as they did before its establishment. According to Topsy, its #arkeologistihdamı hashtag, for example, was created months before the platform; the Archaeologists' Employment Platform's official account never used the hashtag, and its spokesperson first used it on 8 September 2013, when she pointed out to the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Ömer Çelik, that 'the unemployed archaeologist count of more than six thousand increases by two thousand people every year. Only one of every thousand archaeologists can be hired [işsiz arkeolg sayıs altıbinden dah fazla her yıl 2 bin kişi eklenyor.her bin arkeologdn sadec biri atanbilyor … #ARKEOLOGİSTİHDAMI]' (Çelebi 2013).
After the Gezi Park uprising, the Turkish state began rolling arrests and releases of social media users who had supposedly 'provoked incidents' (Hürriyet Daily News 2013; cf. Al Jazeera 2013; DNA 2013), and persisted in prosecuting some of them (Eissenstat 2014). Within this context, it is notable that Fatih University lecturer Kadir Tufan (2013) told (concurring) Ankara Strategy Institute (Ankara Strateji Enstitüüsü) President Mehmet Özcan that '[foreign] journalists and archaeologists are the most likely [intelligence] agents [gazeteci ve arkeologlar en potansiyel ajanlardır]'. Unsurprisingly, some activist archaeologists deleted tweets or accounts that could be used against them.
Hence, at comparatively little risk of triggering interference, Unfree Archaeology was able to explain news from the uprising and document cultural heritage workers' struggles (while protecting the workers' identities). It examined The Politics of (a Lack of) Archaeological Work (Hardy 2013e), which led to public discussion of Archaeological Resistance During Occupy Gezi (Hardy 2013f), and which informed research into the history of Gezi Park (cf. Barry-Born 2014). (Where it cited tweets that could be used against their authors, it only provided the English-language translation; here, the original-language text has been quoted too, so that their translation can be checked and their source can be found, but their authors have not been identified, so that they can delete their statements.)
Archaeologists in Turkey are predisposed to radical activity not only by their socio-economic circumstances, but also by the politics and practice of their profession, which they have performed under (neoliberal) nationalist and Islamist government. When the government launched the programme to redevelop a public park as a mosque and shopping centre in the style of Ottoman military barracks, they excluded archaeologists from development work on the site, which overlaid an expropriated and demolished Armenian cemetery (Hardy 2013e; 2013f).
Archaeologists joined the uprising as archaeologists 'against government that perceives archaeology as pots and pans [arkeolojiyi çanak çömlekçilik sanan hükümete karûı]' (source deleted), 'against power, against capital that destroys and discards in order to extract rent [iktidara, rant için yıkıp döken sermayeye karşı]' (source withheld). They are radicalised by archaeological knowledge itself: it undermines narratives of cultural superiority or purity; it reveals, and instils respect for, common humanity. They joined the struggle for liberated commons in Turkey in order to enable an equally liberated archaeology that 'won't serve racist forces or power [kafatasçı güçlere, iktidarlara hizmet etmeyecek]' (source withheld), that will 'destroy traditional racist, ideological, segregationist/exclusionary oppositions in archaeology [Arkeolojide gelenekselleşmiş ırkçı, ideolojik, ayrımcı karşıtlıkların yıkılması iç:in]' (source withheld).
Yet, early in 2013, there were apparently more than 6,000 unemployed archaeologists, and those few archaeologists who were employed were nonetheless 'left on their own in financial difficulties [geçim sıkıntısı ile baş başa bırakılıyorlar]' (Anlaşılmak 2013). Hence, those archaeologists had already organised via social media, built social platforms for activism (Selçuk Haber 2013), and 'rebelled [ayaklandı]', 'revolted [isyan etti]' (Erbil 2013), engaged in coordinated professional resistance to the state before the uprising. Cultural heritage workers were founding members of the occupation of Gezi Park. Inevitably, Prof. Nevzat Çevik (2013) advertised his teach-in via Twitter; and, in reply, would-be students explained to him that they could not attend, because the police had 'attacked unconcerned citizens who walked, and closed the metro to Taksim [Yürüyen ilgisiz vatandaşa bile saldirdilar taksime metroyu kapattılar]'.
Cultural heritage workers' resistance to authoritarianism at Gezi Park rooted itself in a deep local history of resistance to cultural destruction and gentrification: 'archaeologists [were] in the squares for revenge for Zeugma and Allianoi [arkeologlar Zeugma ve Allianoi'un intikamı için meydanlarda]' (source withheld); they committed to 'resistance to the very end in revenge for the archaeological sites that have been left underwater. Gezi has become a matter of our honour [sular altında kalan SİT alanlarının intikamı için sonuna kadar direniş. Gezi onur meselemiz olmuştur]' (source withheld).
The hallmark of the resistance in Turkey was its use of 'disproportionate intelligence [orantısız zeka]' (Erdem 2013). For instance, some archaeologists suddenly took renewed interest in a three-year-old publication regarding a Lydian inscription: 'if anyone harms a tree, they will find themselves against an angry god [her kim ağaca zarar verirse, karşısında öfkeli bir tanrı bulacaktır]' (Malay 2010).
On 5 April 2014, the Vice-President of the Archaeologists' Union (Arkeologlar Derneği), Binnur Çelebi (2014a), announced to me, Current World Archaeology and – as CNN Türk was notoriously censorious of news of the uprising – CNN International that 'we're at the end of our tether with the employment of 1% of archaeologists. If there is not just employment in 2014, [there will be a] hunger strike [%1'lik #arkeologistihdamı artık canımıza tak etti. 2014' de adil istihdam olmazsa açlık grevi]'. She (2014b) assured media figure Okan Bayülgen (Okan Kaan Görgün) and us that 'I do not speak rhetorically, I do what I say [laf olsun diye konuşmam dediğimi yaparım]'.
In her role as the spokesperson of the Archaeologists' Employment Platform, Çelebi (2014c) blogged the warning of a 'hunger strike [açlık grevi]'; and, as both Archaeologists' Union (Arkeologlar Derneği) vice-president and platform spokesperson, she made a call for action for archaeologists' employment on 5 May 2014 (Çelebi 2014d; 2014e). Echoing the declarations of the previous year, one activist shared an image of a Platform protest (source deleted), where an archaeologist had complained that they had 'no work, no food, no partner [iş yok, aş yok, eş yok]' and announced, 'we're in the squares on 5 May [5 Mayısta meydanlardayız]' (source deleted).
As the various campaigns against unpaid or underpaid labour and unemployment have shown, when done in the right way in the right circumstances, blogging and micro-blogging can significantly augment 'traditional' modes of discussion, analysis and activism. Fundamentally, they enable and encourage collaborative knowledge production and open peer review, which drive the conduct of reliable and precise analysis. However, sometimes, the number of voices can drown out every voice and paralyse any movement to action.
Professional deployment of social media can bypass vested interests and censorship and expose harmful practices to public scrutiny. Combined with formal labour representation, public lobbying and the disruption of exploitation, social media mobilisation can be an effective tool in resistance to labour insecurity; yet, depending on the skill of its user, it may leave them more vulnerable to reprisals for their activism than 'traditional' activity.