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After ModernityArchaeological Approaches to the Contemporary Past$
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Rodney Harrison and John Schofield

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199548071

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199548071.001.0001

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Discussion and Conclusion

Discussion and Conclusion

(p.282) 10 Discussion and Conclusion
After Modernity

Rodney Harrison

John Schofield

Oxford University Press

This book has been written at a time when late modern societies are experiencing a period of enormous social and economic upheaval. Some commentators have suggested that late modern societies should be seen as defunct, or at best in decline. This forecast of the end of late modern societies looms larger than it has ever done before. But, in what ways will this influence the archaeology of the contemporary past as a discipline, and its agenda as we have charted it in this book? In many ways, the need for an archaeology of the late modern period has become even more urgent in the light of these changes. Any discipline that allows us to look at the nature of late modern societies from a different perspective will help us to understand the critical points at which societies change, and to put this information into practice in the future. But what if we are in a period that heralds the onset of a new form of society? Will the archaeology of the contemporary past simply become another period study, like the archaeology of the Neolithic for example? Although we have focused much of our discussion on the nature of late modern societies, we argue that we need an archaeology of ‘now’ as much as we need one that explores social responses to the very recent past that got us here. The central theme of this book is the need to develop an archaeology that allows us to be more self-aware and critically reflexive by understanding the nature of contemporary society and its engagement with the material world, as well as our recent and deeper past. It is this single point that is at the core of our argument—that we need to use the approaches of archaeology not only to study the roots of our society, but also to understand our present lives. Thus archaeology becomes not only a discipline for recording objects, places, and practices that are extinct or have fallen into ruin, but develops a series of tools alongside its more conventional ones for scrutinizing objects, places, and practices within our own society that are still in use.

Keywords:   Counter-modern archaeology, Ethnic violence, Garbage project, Heritage, Kitsch, Nostalgia, Postmodernity, Rescue archaeology, Speed, Virtual communities

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