Archaeologies of the Present:
Critical Engagements with Post-industrial
an International Workshop hosted at
Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan
August 3-7, 2014
The purpose of this five-day workshop is to establish and strengthen dialogues between scholars engaged in urban contemporary archaeology research. The workshop’s design aims to:
- strengthen the existing international community of contemporary archaeologists both in the emergent sub-field and in the wider discipline of anthropology
- develop specific theoretical and methodological positions that emphasize the importance of material approaches in investigating post-industrial urbanism.
Using site-based engagements in Detroit as a common case studies, workshop participants will focus on the political, social, economic and cultural material realities of ‘now’ while engaging with the latent agency of post-industrial places to creatively re-emerge, transform and reposition themselves in the near future.
The workshop presentations, site visits, and discussions involve engagements with three overlapping topics within the broader study of post-industrial urban transitions:
- Creative Engagements with Post-Industrial Cities
- Materialities of Political and Social Mobilization
Participants will present research related to at least one of these topics. Their research and the resulting group discussions will serve to redirect the contemporary archaeology research agenda firmly away from recent critiques of “ruin porn” and modernist-influenced approaches to the past.
What is Contemporary Archaeology?
Contemporary archaeology is defined as a practice that uses archaeological concepts and methodologies to engage critically with extant material remnants in, and of, contemporary societies. Influenced by earlier modern material culture studies in anthropology, over the past decade contemporary archaeology has emerged as a dynamic force for dissecting and contextualizing the material complexities of the present day.
Workshop Participants & contributions
With a primary interest in spurring conversations about contemporary archaeology among new mixtures of scholars, Archaeologies of the Present has been intentionally designed as a small, invite-only workshop involving a group of participants with diverse approaches to practicing contemporary archaeology:
April Beisaw Vassar College, New York
Seeking the Real Ghosts of Ruined Places: Contemporary Archaeology of a City’s Water System
Alfredo González-Ruibal Institute of Heritage Sciences [Incipit] & Compultense University of Madrid, Spain
Ruins of the South
Rebecca S. Graff Lake Forest College, Illinois
Embers from the House of Blazes: Fragments, Relics, Ruins in Chicago, 1871-2014
Laura McAtackney University College Dublin, Ireland
Materialising segregation in the post-industrial city: the Belfast of murals, memorials and community museums
Paul R. Mullins Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indiana
The Archaeology of Absence: Displacement, Effacement, and Conflicted Heritage
Sefryn Penrose Atkins Heritage, London and University of Oxford, England
Workshop Presentation Title: (forthcoming)
Ian Alden Russell Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey
An Innocent City: Modestly archiving everyday Istanbul
Krysta Ryzewski Wayne State University, Michigan
Making Music in Detroit: Acoustic Place-making AND Urban Heritage In a post-industrial city
Courtney Singleton Columbia University, New York
The Rupture of Home: A Contemporary Archaeology of Violent Dispossessions within Homeless Encampments
Carolyn L. White University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada
The Archaeology of Art in the City of Berlin
with Additional Contributions From
John Chenoweth University of Michigan, Dearborn
contemporary & historical archaeologist, ruins site visits
Andrew Newman Wayne State University, Michigan
Social & Political Movements Site Visits
Julia Yezbick Harvard University, Massachusetts
Creative Engagements Site Visits &
Screening of Her Film Into the Hinterlands
Organizers and Sponsors
The Archaeologies of the Present workshop is co-organized and co-hosted by Laura McAtackney (University College Dublin) and Krysta Ryzewski (Wayne State University). The workshop is supported by generous funding from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and the Department of Anthropology, Wayne State University. Krysta Ryzewski, Laura McAtackney and Rodney Harrison (University College London) created the concept and design for the workshop, as detailed in the Wenner-Gren funding proposal.
LinkS to More Information about Contemporary ARchaeology