Historical, Archaeology, Capitalism

  • Matthew Johnson
Part of the Contributions To Global Historical Archaeology book series (CGHA)


In this paper I want to support the central thrust of this volume, namely the call for a historical archaeology of capitalism. Writing such an archaeology is a complex and difficult task, and I seek to explore some of the general problems raised by such a call as explored both in my own work and in the papers published here. My paper will concentrate its comments on several distinct, but clearly related, issues: space, time, context, material culture, and politics. Aspects of these issues have been raised before in the context of an archaeology of the modern world (Orser 1996), but I want to argue here that such concepts are not only central to an archaeology of capitalism, they are themselves central to the practice of archaeology in all areas and places, and as such can be considered the basic building blocks of archaeology as a whole. An archaeology of capitalism is, consequently, much more than an “offshoot” of more traditional archaeological concerns; it is situated at the core of the discipline of archaeology conceived in a holistic sense. I will discuss this relationship between historical and other archaeologies further in the conclusions.


Material Culture Sixteenth Century Historical Archaeology Class Struggle Farm Tenancy 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew Johnson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of DurhamDurhamEngland

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