Scotland’s Island Research Framework for Archaeology (SIRFA) Symposium, Western Isles 7th – 11th January 2019
In June of 2019, I was in the end stages of getting myself a place at Cardiff University to study zooarchaeology. My career path from Bachelors, through my Masters, and on to my Doctorate has been less than straight at times and so when it was suggested that I look into attending SIRFA in the fall when it was to take place on Shetland, I jumped at the opportunity.
The ability to network is essential for any researcher – whether you’re pursuing an MSc or a PhD, whether you intend on ending up in government, contract, or academic work in your career. For someone like myself, who was no stranger to my subfield of zooarchaeology (and who happened to be in the middle of planning an international move at the time of applying for the bursary) but happened to be putting themselves into a new geographic focus for their research – it was an irreplaceable opportunity to meet not only other professionals working in my area, but also to meet a cohort of other doctoral researchers and ECRs who work on the Scottish isles.
The opportunities for ECRs and post-graduate researchers that are presented by unique spaces like the SIRFA meeting in Shetland can’t be understated. To be able to sit in a room with people of all career types and stages and actively discuss and engage with each other – rather than the listening and usually quiet observation of a more formal ‘conference’ style meeting – is integral to making sure that work within our field goes forward. It provides not only interaction, something missing in a lot of academic mediums, but it puts names to faces in a way a simple lecture can’t compare with.
The unique approach and work that ScARF, by extension here through SIRFA, does helps assure that the next generation of PhDs and researchers hoping to work in and with Scotland and its rich heritage are not only integrated into the community – but welcomed into it with support. For this, I am very grateful and looking forward to future meetings and opportunities that both frameworks provide.
Hanna Marie Pageau, PhD Candidate, Cardiff University