The principled treatment of human remains is a tremendous responsibility within archaeology. The OTHER EYES (OE) Project seeks to create avatars based on the interpretation of Roman-era human remains that will share the embodiment of past people with people alive today and allow/or invite people alive today to engage in the process of the embodiment of people in the past. It is therefore a top priority that we make our ideals and methods transparent and are accountable for the results of this project.
This document forms the working principles of the OE Project. It has been brought to the OE team for collective editing, then subjected to the consensus process. The intent of forming these principles is to conduct ourselves according to our shared intentions and values, rather than appealing to state or institutional power to determine boundaries. There will be an accompanying open access publication that will more fully describe the foundation of these principles within the ethics of bioarchaeology, digital archaeology, and egalitarianism.
The OE Project team includes those named directly in the research funding proposal and people brought in later as interested participants, advisors or advocates. The OE team is hierarchical with the PI Colleen Morgan ultimately responsible for all outcomes and contingencies associated with the project. It is disingenuous to present OE as a project with a horizontal power structure, as there are paid participants and unpaid participants. Regardless there will be efforts to redistribute power amongst all participants and to provide beneficial outcomes for all involved, according to need.
Guiding ideal: When conducting research associated with this project, team members will ask themselves, does this work help to create a sense of connection or empathy with past people or between those currently alive and an understanding and acceptance of self?
I. Our understanding of avatars is that they can enact past people, and are not representations or reconstructions, but are discrete entities. Neither the avatars nor the past people these avatars are modelled on can consent themselves and therefore must be advocated for in our consensus process and throughout the duration of OE. Additionally we will find names and faces for the avatars and to better personify them (Geller 2019).
II. The primary work of OE is to use existing human remains and it is not necessary to use photographic/videographic representations of these human remains. If OE is involved in the recovery or examination of human remains there will be further discussions regarding the specific conditions of the visual representation and display of these remains.
III. Authorship of media and publications associated with OE will be according to labour conducted in support of the media or publication, construed by default as generous to participants rather than restrictive. If a team member contributes to a particular aspect of the project, they will be entitled to authorship on resulting materials.
IV. The OE team members will endeavour to conduct research in a way that reduces the potential of inflicting harm upon themselves, project team members, project participants, the avatars or the dead people the avatars are based on. Any potential for harm will be first discussed with team members.
V. If a member of the OE team enacts harm or feels harm has been done to them, we will try to be gentle with each other, while remaining accountable. If team members behave in a manner that is destructive to themselves or to others, we will always speak up to question their actions and come to a resolution. Resolutions, when necessary, will be created using reparative and/or restorative justice principles, with an external mediator and will avoid retributive results.
VI. All materials for OE will be made available and archived with the Archaeology Data Service, with paradata attached. This is an attempt to make the project transparent, accountable, long-lived and possibly reproducible.
This is a living document and may be modified with notification and discussion. If the modification is major, then consensus will be called again.