T. Archaeologies of the Post-Industrial

Organizer: Sefryn Penrose, Oxford University/Atkins Heritage

Sunday, May 8th
9:50 – 12:30
Kroeber 160

Abstract:

In his 1973 work, Tools for Conviviality, Ivan Illich, inventor of the term ‘post-industrial’, argued that societies depended more and more on a technocratic elite, just as the blue-collar workforce was being eroded and undermined. He suggested that the post-industrial citizen should reclaim practical knowledge and ‘return to the value of joyful sobriety and liberating austerity’ alongside fellow citizens, and against ‘energy slaves’. We might now understand the post-industrial society as one that has departed from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge-based or service economy. Or we might, following Soja, conclude that industry is still at the heart of the capitalist system, but that it has transformed or moved away from formerly industrial areas. We might see the prescience of Daniel Bell’s 1973 forecast (in The Coming of Post-Industrial Society) that new premises and new powers, new constraints and new questions would emerge with the transformation of the industrial economy. We might identify the failure of Illich’s project, or observe its partial success in new societal structures and work methods, and in the ‘austerity measures’ of the global financial crisis. As old manufacturing power-bases are left to crumble, or are reinvented, and as former developing nations are, as Bill Clinton said of China, ‘creating an industrialized and a post-industrial society at the same time’, how is post-industrialism manifesting itself?

This session advocates an archaeology of the post-industrial in its widest sense. It asks how archaeology might be used to address these themes and how it can contribute to a wider discussion of and in post-industrial, industrial and industrializing societies. It invites papers that cover post-industrial themes in a variety of ways including, but not limited to

*the post-industrial past, present and future

*specific areas of post-industrialisation or deindustrialisation

*the movement of manufacturing from historically industrial heartlands to new industrial areas and the equivalent movement of peoples

*the places and things of the post-industrial

*post-industrial people

*the politics of post-industrial archaeology

Papers Accepted:

Beneath the Waves: The Conflict Landscape of the Baltic Sea

Gabriella Soto, Bristol University, gabriella.soto@gmail.com

The Baltic Sea is a palimpsest of material culture, whose seabed demonstrates how the legacies of the twentieth century’s industrialized wars can be conceptualized as a conflict landscape. This paper investigates the Baltic from the interdisciplinary perspective of modern conflict archaeology, employing case studies such as the construction of the “Nord Stream” pipeline from Russia to Germany —a project which will add 1.2 million tons of steel to the seabed and navigate the lethal munitions debris of two world wars. The pipeline creates a material link between EU and non-EU nations – a divide also resulting from past conflict.

Life After World War Five: The Technologies of Globalisation.

Paul Graves-Brown, Independent Scholar, slightly.muddy@virgin.net

In as much as there are climate change sceptics, I am a globalisation sceptic. It’s not that I deny the existence of social and economic globalisation, rather I want to question its supposedly recent emergence. Here I will discuss the development of freight containerisation, whose central role in globalisation has, strangely, been taken for granted. The container is fundamental to the “just in time” world we inhabit but, despite our contemporary obsession with speed, this has little to do with the container revolution. Containers are about mode; they are a medium which, as McLuhan argued, simply subsumed earlier media.

Nursing an Industrial Hangover

Emma Dwyer, University of Leicester, ed108@le.ac.uk

The cottage estates built around the outskirts of Britain’s industrial cities between the two world wars came from a sense that “Something Must Be Done” about urban overcrowding. Estates recalled an earlier bucolic time, but were dependent on the latest innovations— electricity, prefabricated construction, and motorized transport to the shops, cinemas, and jobs in industry—that municipal authorities weren’t inclined towards providing on the estates. Many residents are now employed in firmly post-industrial pursuits, but are residing in an environment formed from assumptions made 90 years ago. What does it mean to live a post-industrial life in an ‘industrial’ environment?

From the Rhondda to Nanjing: Workers and Factories on the Move

Sefryn Penrose, Oxford University/Atkins Heritage, sefryn@gmail.com

In 1928 unemployed miners from the Rhondda coalfields in South Wales undertook a Hunger March to raise awareness of their plight. They stopped off in Oxford, a small Midlands market town, with a growing car manufacturing industry. Many stayed. In the later 20th century, the factory contracted, and men and machines moved to Birmingham, until 2006 when that factory closed. The machines are now in Nanjing, China. This paper is a post-industrial archaeology of a moving industrial world, focusing on the beginnings, movements, and endings of an Oxford car factory over a human lifespan.

Water Bottles, Backpacks and Footwear: Investigating the Circulation of Undocumented Migrant Commodities between Northern Mexico and Southern Arizona.

Aaron Naumann, University of Washington, naumaa@u.washington.edu, & Jason De Leon, University of Washington

Since the mid-1990s, thousands of migrants have been attempting to enter the United States on foot through the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. Crossing the border along with people has been an ever evolving desert tool kit that includes backpacks, water bottles, electrolyte beverages, and a variety of other specialized commodities that are mass marketed to migrants in Northern Mexican towns. As part of the Undocumented Migration Project, we have been using archaeological approaches to study the artifacts left behind in order to better understand key changes in US/Mexico labor relations and immigration policy.

The Undocumented Landscape: Transience and Subsistence on the Border

Gabriella Soto, Bristol University, gabriella.soto@gmail.com

Every year, millions of illegal immigrants enter the United States by crossing its southwestern land border. This region has become a “contested landscape,” created by the transit of “anonymous” human beings, and the material traces of their clandestine and ephemeral presence. Backpacks, water bottles, and clothing, are the markers of what in effect is a horizontal stratigraphy of a contemporary archaeological record. These items establish a sense of place and belonging in a foreign, often hostile territory. An interdisciplinary approach to landscape formation in contested space is adopted here, investigating the social, economic, and emotional dimensions of such activities.