An Archaeology of the Contemporary Era approaches the contemporary age, between the late nineteenth and twenty-first centuries, as an archaeological period defined by specific material processes. It reflects on the theory and practice of the archaeology of the contemporary past from epistemological, political, ethical and aesthetic viewpoints, and characterises the present based on archaeological traces from the spatial, temporal and material excesses that define it. The materiality of our era, the book argues, and particularly its ruins and rubbish, reveals something profound, original and disturbing about humanity.
This is the first attempt at describing the contemporary era from an archaeological point of view. Global in scope, the book brings together case studies from every continent and considers sources from peripheral and rarely considered traditions, meanwhile engaging in an interdisciplinary dialogue with philosophy, anthropology, history and geography.
An Archaeology of the Contemporary Era will be essential reading for students and practitioners of the archaeology of the contemporary past, historical archaeology and archaeological theory. It will also be of interest to anybody concerned with globalisation, modernity and the Anthropocene.
Table of Contents
Table of contents
Outline of the book
1. An archaeology of the contemporary era
Archaeologies of the contemporary past
What is "contemporary"?
Supermodernity, Postmodernity, the Anthropocene
Reasserting the modern divide
Defining an archaeological era
Archaeological knowledge and the contemporary past
The soft politics of contemporary archaeology
A radical politics for contemporary archaeology
The hegemony of ethics
The ethics of witnessing
The temporality of ethics
Ethics and affect
The aesthetic regimes of art and archaeology
The politics of the sensible
A poetics of things
Making the mud and crops speak: an archaeological rhetoric
The time of tragedy and hope
Division and confinement
Proliferation and deprivation
9. Concluding remarks: beyond the Anthropocene
Alfredo González-Ruibal is a researcher with the Institute of Heritage Sciences of the Spanish National Research Council. His research focuses on the archaeology of the contemporary past, and particularly on the dark side of modernity: war, dictatorship, predatory capitalism and colonialism. He has conducted fieldwork in Spain, Brazil, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea and Somaliland.
This text will likely be indispensable for advanced undergraduates and graduate students entering the field, as well as thought provoking for professionals engaged in the development and interpretation of new projects. The thematic organization of chapters allows for accessible piecemeal reading, but at the same time, each section builds to contribute to González-Ruibal’s political intervention into and rehabilitation of archaeology as the discipline primed to enhance our understanding of (super)modernity. African Archaeological Review, Johanna A. Pacyga
This book is the most formidable, encompassing, agenda-setting instalment in the growing archaeology of the contemporary era. It will shape and sharpen the conversation for years to come. Norwegian Archaeological Review - Lori Khatchadourian