On Apprehending and Approaching That Which is in Excess of Monstrosity, with Special Consideration given to the Photography of Edward Burtynsky


  • Christopher Witmore Texas Tech University




Anthropocene, Edward Burtynsky, hypanthropic things, photographic art, Three Gorges Dam


Offering a more precise epithet for that which has emerged under the provisional label of the “Anthropocene”, this article trains its lens on some of the more-than-monstrous things that have revealed themselves in our calamitous times. It raises questions about how archaeologists are to apprehend and approach objects that differ in scale, speed, makeup, and efficacy from anything our field has ever dealt with. But rather than honing its analytical edge exclusively with the latest science, it also ventures in another direction to explore some of the powers of art by considering the work of the Canadian photographer Edward Burtynksy. Finally, it makes a few closing remarks on the role of our profession in this new archaeological era.


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Author Biography

Christopher Witmore, Texas Tech University

Christopher Witmore is Associate Professor of Archaeology and Classics at Texas Tech University. His main research interests include: Mediterranean Archaeology; especially Southern Greece; things and the new materialisms; landscape and chorography; the history of archaeology; science and technology studies; and media. He is co-author of Archaeology: The Discipline of Things (2012), co-editor of Archaeology in the Making (2013), and co-editor of the Routledge Archaeological Orientations series with Gavin Lucas.


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How to Cite

Witmore, C. (2019). Hypanthropos: On Apprehending and Approaching That Which is in Excess of Monstrosity, with Special Consideration given to the Photography of Edward Burtynsky. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, 6(1), 136–153. https://doi.org/10.1558/jca.33819

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