Contemporary Archaeology and the City

I contributed the essay “A Renaissance with Revenants: Images Gathered from the ruins of Cape Town’s Districts One and Six” to an edited volume by Laura McAtackney and Krysta Ryzewsky entitled Contempory Archaeology and the City. Creativity, Ruins and Political Action published by Oxford University Press.

The OUP book summary reads:

Contemporary Archaeology and the City foregrounds the archaeological study of post-industrial and other urban transformations through a diverse, international collection of case studies. Over the past decade contemporary archaeology has emerged as a dynamic force for dissecting and contextualizing the material complexities of present-day societies. Contemporary archaeology challenges conventional anthropological and archaeological conceptions of the past by pushing temporal boundaries closer to, if not into, the present.

The volume is organized around three themes that highlight the multifaceted character of urban transitions in present-day cities – creativity, ruination, and political action. The case studies offer comparative perspectives on transformative global urban processes in local contexts through research conducted in the struggling, post-industrial cities of Detroit, Belfast, Indianapolis, Berlin, Liverpool, Belém, and post-Apartheid Cape Town, as well as the thriving urban centres of Melbourne, New York City, London, Chicago, and Istanbul. Together, the volume contributions demonstrate how the contemporary city is an urban palimpsest comprised by archaeological assemblages – of the built environment, the surface, and buried sub-surface – that are traces of the various pasts entangled with one another in the present.

This volume aims to position the city as one of the most important and dynamic arenas for archaeological studies of the contemporary by presenting a range of theoretically-engaged case studies that highlight some of the major issues that the study of contemporary cities pose for archaeologists.