Contemporary Archaeologies: Excavating Now

Frankfurt/Main: Peter Lang. 2009. 221pp, 50 illustrations, paperback, index. ISBN 978-3-631-57637-3. £27.30, (US)$ 56.95, €39.00.

Edited by Cornelius Holtorf, Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden and Angela Piccini, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada and University of Bristol, UK. Reprinted 2010.

Automobile assembly lines. Nevada Peace Camps. Freeze-dried remains from Antarctic expeditions. The archaeology of tigers. With increasing frequency, archaeologists are transferring their toolkit from the study of the ancient world to research the contemporary one. This volume provides many examples of that, and more. "Contemporary archaeologies marry archaeology in the modern world with the archaeology of the modern world" according to the editors, who asked each author to present not only their research on an aspect of today's existence but also to reveal something about the role and practice of archaeology in the contemporary world. The resulting volume, using both traditional articles and experimental texts, challenges the reader to think of archaeology in new and innovative ways.

(text from Left Coast Press)

This book is about the archaeology of the present and the very recent past. Archaeology's repertoire of questions, procedures, methodologies and terminologies, its material manifestations (protected sites, public museums, archives) and its popular appeals are rooted in modernity.

Contemporary archaeologies marry archaeology in the modern world with the archaeology of the modern world. Their strengths lie in a stimulating mix of interdisciplinary practices across academic, public-sector and professional contexts.

Contents:

INTRODUCTION

PART 1: ON THE CHARACTER OF ARCHAEOLOGY/HERITAGE

PART 2: RECORDING AND PRESERVING 20TH CENTURY HERITAGE?

PART 3: NEW DIMENSIONS OF MATERIALITY

PART 4: INTO THE FUTURE

Some appreciations:
This fast-paced, diverse and provocative collection will be an important benchmark as the discipline thinks through the implications and potential of the archaeological study of the contemporary world. Dan Hicks, University of Oxford
Tigers and ponies and Freud? Indeed, and more. To paraphrase one of the authors, this book is wild, potentially dangerous and powerfully subverts the tendency to trivialize the recent past. Mary Beaudry, Boston University
After finishing CORNELIUS HOLTORF and ANGELA PICCINI’s collection of essays on Contemporary archaeologies, I am persuaded that there is value in the work produced by archaeologists, artists, performers and anthropologists who are interested in engaging with today’s world through an archaeological lens. Madeleine Hummler, Antiquity
In my last column, I noted that “an Archaeology of Antarctica is on the brink of being written” (The Times, February 25th): in ... Britain ... scholars have now begun to do so. ... Mike Pearson of the University of Aberystwyth has written Professor Gregory’s Villa and piles of pony poop: early expeditionary remains in Antarctica, forthcoming in Contemporary Archaeologies: Excavating Now, edited by Cornelius Holtorf, of the University of Kalmar, and Angela Piccini of Bristol University (Peter Lang Publishers). Norman Hammond, The Times, March 24, 2008
I recommend this book to everyone: contemporary archaeology enthusiasts will find much to enjoy; crusty old sceptics will find their prejudices comfortably reinforced. For newcomers to the field this entertaining and well-written collection makes a powerful case for the unique nature and value of the archaeologist's gaze in the contemporary world. Gabe Moshenska, University College London

Full list of press coverage and reviews:

Archaeology in and of the modern world, Time and Society 19(3), 2010, 413-416 (Lisa Hill)

Review, Ethnographisch-Archäologische Zeitschrift 50, 2009, 671-3 (Heinrich Härke)

Review, Anthropology Review Database, 1 Dec 2009 (Lawrence Moore)

Review, Norwegian Archaeological Review 42(2), 2009, 205-7 (Gabriel Moshenska)

New Book Chronicle, Antiquity 83, 2009, 883-4 (Madeleine Hummler)

(publication date: 1 Feb 2009)

 


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