Archaeology & Ancient History at Uppsala and #metoo
You will all be aware of the #metoo movement that has been growing around the world in recent weeks. In Sweden, there have been several declarations specific to individual professions, including a general one for the academic sector, #akademiuppropet, and one for archaeology, #utgrävningpågår; these have been published in Svenska Dagbladet and Dagens Nyheter, they have received wide coverage, and they are still developing.
This is a deeply serious issue, and it's essential that we talk about it.
As a first step in that process, the department management has a statement that we want to share with you. There are versions in both Swedish and English, for circulation to all our staff and students.
As you know, Uppsala University already has procedures for dealing with sexual harassment, but these are not at issue. They do not address the power dynamics that are at the heart of this problem, the structures that have meant so much has gone unreported, or has been actively silenced. As crucial as #metoo is, a still more important question is to ask, what next? What happens now?
It is obvious that things must change, that this movement must have positive consequences, that it must be supported in every workplace. We can also note that a backlash is already beginning, that is attempting to undermine or marginalise these voices in tiresomely predictable ways. This must be resisted.
It seems clear to us that what #metoo is demanding is simple and ought to be self-evident: at all times and in all circumstances, women should be treated with basic human decency, as the equals that they are. Everyone has a right to everyday courtesy, to the integrity of their person, and to professional respect. Everyone should feel safe at work. None of this should be difficult.
#metoo has been driven and will be taken forward by women; this is as it should be, though it’s important to understand that harassment is an issue for people of any gender. It is right that the focus be on the victims and survivors of harassment rather than on the excuses of its perpetrators. But it is also the case that for things to change, this is largely an issue for men, with implications for everybody. It should not be difficult not to harass people, or not to behave like a creep.
As a beginning, we would like to make an unequivocal statement. At the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, there can and will be no tolerance for this - whether in the form of inappropriate behaviour, or in failing to support colleagues by not speaking out if this is observed in others. This is the message that has got to get across to each one of us: either in the past or present, if there is anything in your behaviour or attitudes of which you are less than proud, then learn from it and do not repeat it, ever. We urge every person in our department, without exception, to reflect hard on this and to act accordingly going forward.
It is up to all of us to do what we can to make our department the best workplace that it can be, in ways that bring us together rather than divide us. If you have anything you wish to bring up, if you have comments or suggestions of any kind, please be assured that we are listening.
These things can be desperately difficult to speak about, for obvious reasons, but - and this is very important - there is always somebody you can talk to, in confidence, and in the knowledge that this can be handled sensitively. Many people are there for you, whether the Head of Department or their deputy; the Directors of Studies; the course administrators; or quite simply, someone else that you trust. But talking is not enough: we need to improve our mechanisms for dealing with this, and we need to ensure that everybody knows how they work. What we are saying now is just a start, and there is more to do.
We hope that we do not and will not have problems of this kind, but we have to work to make it so, and keep it that way. We can only do this together.