Beth Alpert Nakhai, Associate Professor of Judaic Studies, is hoping to improve safety for everyone on archaeological digs in the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean Basin. Nakhai is the head of the American Schools of Oriental Research’s Initiative on the Status of Women (http://www.asor.org), and as such, wanted to address the issue of sexual harassment, intimidation and violence in the field.
“When people are out in the middle of nowhere on a dig, they do things that wouldn’t be acceptable on campus or in real life. Sometimes we call this the ‘state of exception,’” Nakhai said.
To better understand the real experiences of men and women in the field, Nakhai created a questionnaire entitled The Survey on Field Safety: Middle East, North Africa, and the Mediterranean Basin. The survey is being circulated by ASOR, as well as through other professional societies, institutes and organizations. Individuals who have worked on digs in the region being studied are encouraged to take the survey, and to share as much or as little as they feel comfortable sharing (http://bit.ly/FieldSafety).
Nakhai hopes to have about 600 respondents, and will present preliminary results at ASOR’s upcoming conference in November. In the long-term, Nakhai plans to make the results of the survey available to the public, to develop trainings and document templates for codes of conduct on future digs, and to make those materials available through the ASOR website. Trainings will include expectations and awareness of proper behavior, as well as U.S. laws regarding sexual harassment (including Title IX and the Jeanne Clery Act; http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/tix_dis.html), and safe reporting systems for participants who are threatened or attacked.