An introduction to the field of contemporary archaeology as practiced in the United States
“Provides a novel account of the contemporary US from the point of view of archaeology that may be of interest beyond the field itself. Very original and intuitive. A great piece of scholarship.”—Alfredo González-Ruibal, author of An Archaeology of the Contemporary Era
“This fascinating book outlines the emergence of a new field—the archaeology of the contemporary world—and the unique light it sheds on the American experience today.”—Matthew Edgeworth, author of Fluid Pasts: Archaeology of Flow
“Rather than gazing backward through time, Caraher deploys the archaeologist’s perspective to focus on how the present is a temporal moment of its own where the materiality of American life and culture can be observed, understood, and critiqued. Readers will learn how to see their own material existence in contemporary America in new and transformative ways.”—Christopher N. Matthews, author of A Struggle for Heritage: Archaeology and Civil Rights in a Long Island Community
This book is the first survey of contemporary archaeology, a field that focuses on the study of the past 50 years, in the United States. William Caraher demonstrates the plurality of theoretical and methodological approaches that make this discipline in the US unique, including the application of anthropological methods such as ethnography and oral history and the contributions of collaborative and community-based research.
Opening with a case study of the excavation of Atari games from a municipal landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico, Caraher invites readers into discussions of the archaeology of garbage, consumer objects, and digital music and video devices. He then synthesizes research on migrant camps, homelessness, military bases, residential school campuses, and urbanism, and offers a second case study: an examination of temporary workforce housing in North Dakota's Bakken oil boom.
The Archaeology of Contemporary America explores how American historical archaeology, with its emphasis on consumer culture, race, and social class, provided a foundation for early efforts to apply archaeology to the contemporary world. Caraher also situates US contemporary archaeology in a global context that traces networks of extractive industries, manufacturing, and discard practices that make the American experience possible.
William R. Caraher, associate professor of history at the University of North Dakota, is coauthor of The Bakken: An Archaeology of an Industrial Landscape.
A volume in the series the American Experience in Archaeological Perspective, edited by Michael S. Nassaney and Krysta Ryzewski
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