Historical archaeology & the modern world. In this lecture I will :. Outline various definitions of historical archaeology Discuss some of the main trends in academic thought (mostly from the USA and UK)
In this lecture I will: • Outline various definitions of historical archaeology • Discuss some of the main trends in academic thought (mostly from the USA and UK) • Describe archaeological case studies to illustrate modern world historical archaeology in action
Historical archaeology is the study of a period Usually post-prehistoric literate societies, a way of distinguishing ‘historic sites’ archaeology from the remains of earlier periods, especially in the USA
Historical archaeology as a methodology Historical archaeologists make use of a variety of sources from above and below ground archaeology, written documents, pictures and maps, and oral history.
Historical archaeology as the study of the modern world ‘Modern-world archaeology’ is usually taken to mean post-Columbian period in New World traditions(i.e. c. AD 1492 to the present)
‘historic sites archaeology’ defined as ‘the material manifestations of the expansion of European culture into the non-European world starting in the 15th century and ending with industrialization or the present depending on conditions’ Robert Schuyler (1970:84) Historical Archaeology and Historic Sites Archaeology as Anthropology: Basic Definitions and Relationships. Historical Archaeology 4:83-89.
Jim Deetz worked on the development of early American cultures from the 17th century Deetz defined historical archaeology as: “The archaeology of the spread of Europeans throughout the world since the 15th century and their impact on indigenous people” James Deetz (1977) In Small Things Forgotten James Deetz 1930-2000
Leone defined historical archaeology as the archaeology of capitalism. Mark Leone University of Maryland William Paca’s garden, Annapolis
Orser developed the historical archaeology of the modern world using a Marxist approach. He is interested in issues of race, oppression, power, & inequality Charles OrserNew York Metropolitan Museum
‘Though not intending to be misanthropic, I believe that to identify historical archaeology with literate history or to relegate it to a methodology does the field a disservice...I believe that historical archaeology will only assume prominence in the minds of both scholars and the public when its practitioners openly accept that they study the modern world’ Charles Orser (1996:25-26) A Historical Archaeology of the Modern World
Global Historical Archaeology Global historical archaeology explores the ‘grand historical narratives’ of the modern period, such as capitalism, economic improvement and consumerism Orser urges us to ‘think globally, dig locally’ and to create modern world archaeologies that address contemporary global concerns Charles Orser 1996 An Historical Archaeology of the Modern World
Entangled Lives: Atlantic Africa and the Slave trade To Discover And Understand.
“....the archaeologist starts with a subject that is pertinent today and then works backwards in time to understand its historical roots. The goal is to interject a strong dose of relevance to recent-period archaeology in such a way that the significance of the research cannot be denied...” Charles Orser 1999 Negotiating our familiar pasts Global Historical Archaeology
But why bother, when we already know all we need to know about the recent past from history? Let’s start a new country! Sure. What harm can it do? Plimoth Plantation, America, 1624
‘History is not the past. It is a story written about the past, constructed in the present, and meant to be useful’ Henry Glassie 2001 Material Culture
A Different focus and scales? • Most archaeology is more small scale than history • Archaeology can uncover the relationship between events and practices at very close time scales with larger scale processes • Archaeology has a multi-scalar approach that can mesh local events with global structures and introduce a unique material perspective to aid interpretation
So What? “By plying backwards and forwards between global structures and local responses it is possible to move beyond universal explanations and to understand the material conditions of individual lives in particular times and places” Martin Hall 2000 Archaeology and the Modern World
Archaeology can “ironicize” traditional historical master narratives that commemorate, for example, colonialism and can replace them with smaller stranger, potentially subversive narratives of archaeological material” Matthew Johnson, 1999, Rethinking Historical Archaeology. In Martin Hall, Pedro Funari, Sian Jones (eds.) Historical Archaeology Back from the Edge
Themes in Historical Archaeology Scale How does an historical archaeology of the modern world hold in the same frame attention to the “small things forgotten” of everyday life and particular individuals and the global system of distribution characteristic of modernity?
Themes in Historical Archaeology • Agency • How does one interpret the“absent presence” behind the artifacts, the force driving the process of history? The artifact is usually part of an assemblage,and the assemblage is a palimpsest of individual activities • Space – time-connections • The economic and social relations of production
Themes in Historical Archaeology Materiality Historical archaeology’s challenge and perhaps its strength is that it does not have a dominant theory of the material world to call its own. To grapple with materiality, historical archaeology owes much either directly toMarx, or to subsequent theorists writing in, or in response to, Marx’s work: Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu. The other major theoretical thread is structuralism: Claude Levi-Strauss via Henry Glassie to James Deetz.
Meaning How do historical archaeologists read and interpret their various sources of evidence – text, oral tradition, artifact, landscape – to write their stories? Brazilian runaway settlement forged by escaped slaves and indigenous South Americans as a contrapuntal community to the oppression of the plantations.) Brazilian runaway settlement forged by escaped slaves and indigenous South Americans as a contrapuntal community to the oppression of the plantations.) Brazilian runaway settlement forged by escaped slaves and indigenous South Americans as a contrapuntal community to the oppression of the plantations.) Meaning How do historical archaeologists read and interpret their various sources of evidence – text, oral tradition, artifact, landscape – to write their stories? Themes in Historical Archaeology • Pedro Funari • Little Angola, the Brazilian runaway settlement forged by escaped slavesand indigenous South Americans as a contrapuntal community to the oppressionof the plantations
Representation How do historical archaeologists represent the past to the present and how, as agents themselves, do they read the past in relation to the present? Themes in Historical Archaeology Representation How do historical archaeologists represent the past to the present and how, as agents themselves, do they read the past in relation to the present? Mark Leone – Critical Historical Archaeology
But how recent can historical archaeology be? By focusing attention on the nature of archaeological methods and data, and stressing that we deal with material culture, the whole issue of how recent the subject matter should be becomes irrelevant. Archaeology is no longer limited to the distant past or a particular time period.
Excavation of a Ford Transit Van Cambridge Archaeological Journal (2009), 19 : 1-28
Things you should know From weeks 2-9 there are two lectures every week . These will be delivered back-to-back Thurs 9.15-11.14 in K/133 To keep us all sane and comfortable there will be a 10 minute break in between lectures
Reading & Resources • Students are asked to read 4-5 items (chapters, articles, etc.) every week for the module • Most of this material has been scanned and is available through the course CMS page. • Other books and articles are available as ebooks, through journal home pages, or from Key texts in the Main Library
Assessment - Formative • You are asked to write one formative essay of no more than 2000 words. This is due in Week 7 of the Autumn Term. • You have a choice of two questions. These are on the web CMS • They are as follows….
Choose one question for your formative essay • 1. How would you choose to define historical archaeology? Discuss, giving examples from the study of the modern world. • 2. 'How does one teach so that people know right from wrong? How does one teach using the past, which in my case means archaeology, so that the present makes more sense?' (Leone 2010:205) Discuss, giving examples from the work of Mark P. Leone, and the Archaeology in Annapolis project.
CLOSED EXAM - Summative • This module is assessed by a closed exam of a 2 hour duration in week 1 of the Spring Term. • You will be asked to write one essay and annotate a map. • The exam will assess various elements that were tested in your formative essay. You should revise material from at least three consecutive weeks' lectures. • You won't have access to your notes for this exam, so good revision is vital