In the Wrst part of the book we considered a number of influences on the emergence of an archaeology of the contemporary past, from the interests in contemporary small-scale societies that developed as part of the New Archaeology in the 1960s and 1970s, to the use of contemporary case studies to address particular archaeological debates about the relationship between material culture and social behaviour posed by post-processual archaeologists in the 1980s and 1990s. We have seen how the archaeology of the recent past began with a focus on the First and Second World Wars, and then the Cold War, eventually to encompass a Weld that is concerned with the archaeology of a much wider range of events that have only just passed or are still occurring today (e.g. Penrose 2007). In Chapter 3 we looked in detail at the sorts of Weld methodologies that are being applied by archaeologists of the recent and contemporary past, considering whether their Weld methods might be understood to be distinct from other forms of archaeology. In Chapter 4 we looked at the relationship between archaeology and other disciplines that focus on contemporary materiality, in particular anthropology, material culture studies, art, and documentary photography. And in Chapter 5 we explored some reasons why archaeologists might have developed an interest in the contemporary world, and the period of late modernity in particular, through an exploration of some of the conditions of late modernity that make it distinct from the periods that precede it. In the second part of the book, we look in more detail at how we might approach the archaeology of the contemporary world, with reference to a series of case studies. As you read through this second part, you will notice that one of its distinguishing features is its dual perspective. We consider on the one hand places and material practices that are essentially extinct or have ceased to function, and on the other those places and practices that are still functioning, or, in Tim Cresswell’s (2004: 37) words, are ‘still becoming’.
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