“For more than a century, scholars have critiqued, misinterpreted, and bickered about Marx’s concept of mode of production. Modes of Production and Archaeology cuts through the dense and thorny intellectual thicket that grew up from these debates. The book presents an easily understood discussion of Marx’s concepts and demonstrates how archaeologists can analyze modes of production to explain long-term patterns in cultural change.”—Randall McGuire, author of Archaeology as Political Action
“Shows clearly how historical materialist ideas and concepts are productive in developing the theory and practice of archaeology.”—Robert Chapman, author of Archaeologies of Complexity
“Covers a huge range of ground and brings together ideas and analyses in a way that has not really been done yet in archaeology.”—Colin Grier, Washington State University
Contributors to this volume explain how archaeologists can use Karl Marx and Frederick Engels’ mode of production concept to study long-term patterns in human society. Mode of production analysis links economy, politics, and ideology by describing how labor is organized to create surplus that is then used for political purposes. This type of analysis allows archaeologists to compare and contrast peoples across distant continents and eras, from egalitarian hunter-gatherer groups to early agriculturalists to nation-states, in order to analyze changes in economic systems, social structure, and culture. Presenting a range of different perspectives from researchers working in a wide variety of societies and time periods, this volume clearly demonstrates why historical materialism matters to the field of archaeology.
Robert M. Rosenswig, associate professor of anthropology at the University at Albany, SUNY, is the author of The Beginnings of Mesoamerican Civilization: Inter- Regional Interaction and the Olmec and coeditor of Early New World Monumentality. Jerimy J. Cunningham is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Lethbridge.