Making Change Materialize: An Archaeology of Social Reform in the Age of Obama

  • Hadley Kruczek-AaronEmail author


The 2008 American presidential election led some to believe that an era of possibility had finally dawned. But change remains elusive, and questions about how to advance social justice causes persist in the age of Obama. Critical examinations of past social movements help answer these questions, and to this end I offer research on Smithfield and North Elba, two New York towns imagined as utopias by reformer Gerrit Smith (1797–1874). While some have emphasized a narrative of utopia realized, research on the artifacts, landscapes, and texts associated with them has revealed past struggles and knowledge of what hinders future imaginaries.


Reform Activist archaeology Heritage Utopia 



My Smithfield work was funded in part through an AAUW American Fellowship, and SUNY’s Dr. Nuala Drescher Affirmative Action/Leave Program allowed me the time to carry out much needed archival research for the Timbucto project. I am grateful for the mentoring of Theresa Singleton and LouAnn Wurst, who helped guide my Smithfield research. Thanks to Kenneth Aaron, my Potsdam colleagues and students, Martha Swan, Amy Godine, Chuck Vandrei, Christina Rieth, and other support staff from the NYS Cultural Resources Survey and the Department of Environmental Conservation for making the Timbucto work possible. I am indebted to LouAnn Wurst and Steve Mrozowski for inviting me to participate in this volume, and to Steve Mrozowski and Randy McGuire for their helpful editorial comments offered on an earlier draft of this article. Their feedback greatly improved the work, for which I am solely responsible.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologySUNY PotsdamPotsdamUSA

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