Archaeology in the Era of Capitalism

Authors

  • Selma Faria University College London

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/jca.v2i2.28320

Keywords:

Precarization, commoditization, social retrogression, transferability, capitalist logic, current peer discourse, neo-elitization

Abstract

While attempting to resolve the query at hand, this essay aims at directing the attention of the conversation to the macro-economic power plays and interactions which permeate modern and contemporary archaeological practice. First pointing out the effects market fluctuation has had on the activity’s intervenients, it then focuses on exposing how a politicized global financial crisis has brought about the precarization of an entire professional class, and the massification of a new type of practitioner, the occasional freelance archaeologist. Subjected to the instability of a system (the current economic paradigm), which it has long been made to enter a partnership with, archaeology seems to be unable to avoid its own asphyxiation and the one of its agents, in times of financial distress. This text records a very challenging time to the practice of archaeology, one in which its once profitable marriage to the capitalist economic logic now endangers the very democratization of the discipline, risking its substitution by a neo-elitization of sorts, if urgent measures to ensure the opposite are not taken. The focus is on what could be considered one of the main root causes behind the present question. It becomes inevitable to conclude that engaging on potentially segregational peer discourse is pointless and dangerous.

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Author Biography

Selma Faria, University College London

Selma Faria is a public archaeologist who has worked as a museum assistant at the Macau Science and Culture Centre, at the National Museum of Archaeology (both in Lisbon), and more recently as a commercial archaeologist undertaking survey work in Northern Portugal.

References

Hamilakis, Y. 2010. “From Ethics to Politics.” In Archaeology and Capitalism: From Ethics to Politics, edited by Y. Hamilakis and P. Duke, 15–36, 123–127. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries. 2015a. “Archaeologist.” Available online: http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/archaeologist

____. 2015b. “Archaeology.” Available online: http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/archaeology

Preucel, R. W. and S. A. Mrozowski, eds. 2010. Contemporary Archaeology in Theory: The New Pragmatism (2nd edition). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Sánchez, J. A. 2015. “Trading Archaeology is not Just a Matter of Antiquities: Archaeological Practice as a Commodity.” In Ethics and Archaeological Praxis, edited by C. Gnecco and D. Lippert, 141–157. New York: Springer. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-1646-7_10

Schlanger, A. N. and K. Aitchison. 2010. “Introduction: Archaeology and the Global Economic Crisis.” In Archaeology and the Global Economic Crisis: Multiple Impacts, Possible Solutions, edited by N. Schlanger and K. Aitchison, 9–12. Tervuren, Belgium: Culture Lab.

Sinclair, A. 2010. “The End of a Golden Age? The Impending Effects of the Economic Collapse on Archaeology in Higher Education in the United Kingdom.” In Archaeology and the Global Economic Crisis: Multiple Impacts, Possible Solutions, edited by N. Schlanger and K. Aitchison, 31–44. Tervuren, Belgium: Culture Lab.

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Published

2016-01-12

How to Cite

Faria, S. (2016). Archaeology in the Era of Capitalism. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, 2(2), 220–225. https://doi.org/10.1558/jca.v2i2.28320

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