After Modernity: Archaeological Approaches to the Contemporary Past

Author(s): Rodney Harrison

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This book summarizes archaeological approaches to the contemporary past, and suggests a new agenda for the archaeology of late modern societies. The principal focus is the archaeology of developed, de-industrialized societies during the second half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first. This period encompasses the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the 'internet age', a period which sits firmly within what we would recognize to be a period of 'lived and living memory'. Rodney Harrison and John Schofield explore how archaeology can inform the study of this time period and the study of our own society through detailed case studies and an in-depth summary of the existing literature. Their book draws together cross-disciplinary perspectives on contemporary material culture studies, and develops a new agenda for the study of the materiality of late modern societies.


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By bringing archaeology right up to date Harrison and Schofield provide an eloquent argument that the transformation of things and landscapes haunts the contemporary imagination. Their book is a must-read for the many disciplines interested in understanding the turbulent century we have recently shed. The presumption that history died in 1989 is here matched by the birth of a new understanding of the past; one that is altogether more interesting because it is tangible and entrancing. Clive Gamble, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London Archaeology has always been a versatile discipline, and After Modernity shows versatility to the full, using archaeological theory and technique to reflect on the materiality of our contemporary world. This is the first major study to assemble along the vectors of common themes those archaeologies that explore the world of our own lifetimes. In doing this, After Modernity prompts reflection on the power of the material world today. Martin Hall, University of Salford This is the first textbook that encompasses all the recent work on the archaeology of ourselves. In doing so it transforms archaeology into a discipline that can both contribute to a wide range of contemporary social issues and provide new insights for anthropology, sociology, heritage and cultural geography. Ian Hodder, Stanford Archaeology Center This is one of those rare books poised from the outset to become a classic. In many ways it is what archaeology is at its best: a creative and scholarly exploration of everyday life. Yet After Modernity also offers fascinating explorations of the possibilities of the past in the present, and the contributions archaeologies can make to a range of contemporary social issues. ... In sum, Harrison and Schofield's book is a provocative contribution to our understanding of the archaeological discipline and the heritage world around us. After Modernity earns its place in any humanities or social science library. Timothy Clack, University of Oxford, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Rodney Harrison is Lecturer in Heritage Studies at The Open University. John Schofield is a Member of English Heritage's Characterization Team.

1. Introduction ; 1. SURVEYING THE FIELD: THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE RECENT AND CONTEMPORARY PAST ; 2. A disciplinary (pre)history ; 3. Field methods ; 4. Working across disciplines ; 5. Theory and politics ; 2. ARCHAEOLOGICAL APPROACHES TO LATE MODERN SOCIETIES ; 6. Artefacts ; 7. Sites ; 8. Landscapes ; 9. Non-places and virtual worlds ; 10. Conclusions

General Fields

  • : 9780199548088
  • : Oxford University Press
  • : Oxford University Press
  • : July 2010
  • : 216mm X 141mm X 18mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Rodney Harrison
  • : Paperback
  • : 930.1
  • : 344
  • : 42 in-text illustrations