1st Edition

An Archaeology of the Contemporary Era





ISBN 9781138338449
Published December 21, 2018 by Routledge
236 Pages

USD $42.95

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Book Description

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

Acknowledgements

Introduction

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

Summary

2. Ruins

Systemic collapse

Systemic operation

Autophagy

Failure

Catastrophe

Annihilation

Summary

3. Politics

The soft politics of contemporary archaeology

A radical politics for contemporary archaeology

Summary

4. Ethics

The hegemony of ethics

The ethics of witnessing

The temporality of ethics

Ethics and affect

Summary

5. Aesthetics

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

Summary

6. Time

Presentism

Annihilation

Acceleration

Heterochrony

The time of tragedy and hope

Summary

7. Space

Expansion

Impoverishment

Ephemerality

Division and confinement

Waste

Deep mapping

Summary

8. Materiality

Proliferation and deprivation

Monsters

Waste

Atmospheres

Summary

9. Concluding remarks: beyond the Anthropocene

References

Index

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Author(s)

Biography

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.