Approaching Labor through Archaeology in the Twenty-First Century

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  • Documents (11)

  • All the Yards a Market: Bones of Dissent and the Seed of Reproduction (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Justin E. Uehlein.

    Subsistence gardening and animal rearing were as integral to the expansion of U.S. capitalism as the coal that fueled its development. Labor performed at the home provided an effective means of workforce reproduction without significant capital investment by elites while also providing an outlet for laborer resistance to company control. In particular, these skills aided the working-class during labor strikes and periods of unemployment. Working-class communities were paradoxically situated...

  • An Archeology of Labor in Practice (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Paul Shackel.

    Labor studies in the twenty first century are at a crucial turning point. As labor has steadily lost influence in the United States, labor organizations have been increasingly memorializing crucial moments in labor history. These moments are often clashes between labor and capital in which any victory, and sometimes losses, were hard fought. The new National Historic Landmark study of labor archaeology provides guidelines to help us identify significant sites and provide a new way to contribute...

  • Assessing the Value and Potential of Labor Archaeology: A Description of the Labor Archaeology of the Industrial Era National Historic Landmark Theme Study (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Adam Fracchia.

    Work and labor relations have been under attack over the last several decades.  Many of the same issues and problems confronting workers today were faced by workers in the past.  Historical archaeology has the ability to use archaeology to highlight these connections and thus, contribute to the study of labor and the current labor dialogue and struggles.  This paper details the latest draft of the Labor Archaeology of the Industrial Era National Historic Landmark Theme Study and its usefulness...

  • Dark Places: Archaeological Investigations of Historic Underground Mines (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Paul White.

    Despite decades of research at historic mines, archaeological forays in North America have seldom extended to investigate underground workplaces. The reasons are understandable: underground mines are hazardous environments, and it is also the case that fewer mines are accessible due to environmental remediation. The current underrepresentation of the underground, however, has limited disciplinary insights into the mining life. This paper draws from a set of pioneering studies that draw attention...

  • Domestic Labor in Black and Green: Deciphering the Shared experiences of African American and Irish Domestics Working in the same Northern Virginia Households and Communities (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mary Furlong.

    During the late 19th and early 20th centuries wealthy American households relied on domestic labor for the running of the home. In the Northeast, this labor was provided by European immigrants, who often moved from job to job seeking better opportunities. While in the South, African Americans continued to perform the same work many had performed under slavery, often staying in the same geographical region as their family and former owners.  In Northern Virginia, these two forms of domestic labor...

  • Everyone Was Black in the Mines: Exploring the Reasons for Relaxed Racial Tensions in Early West Virginia Coal Company Towns. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Robert DeMuth.

    While racial inequality was frequently the norm in many early 20th century communities, several historians have noted that many central Appalachian coal mining ‘company towns’ tended toward more equitable white/black race relations.  The progressive nature of these histories is opposed to our modern stereotypes of the region, and may provide and important outlet for positive narratives of Appalachia.  This paper draws largely on oral histories and documentary evidence to understand the processes...

  • Intersectionality and Labor Solidarity at Blair Mountain (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Brandon Nida.

    Solidarity around labor issues is often seen as a construction of class interest and consciousness. I will examine an alternative view of the formation of solidarity through the theory of intersectionality. Using the case study of the Battle of Blair Mountain, I will explore how a potent form of solidarity was formed through a convergence of racial, class, ethnic, and regional interests. This is in contrast to a traditional view of class solidarity superseding or erasing these different...

  • The Invisible Institution: Archaeological Expressions of Coerced Labour Control through the Manipulation of Information. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Thomas G. Whitley.

    Identifying the material expressions of torture, punishment, discipline, and imprisonment are key factors in addressing the ways in which society exerts its control over the individual; particularly the non-conformist, the criminal, and the slave. With respect to the spatial expression of coerced labour control, the emphasis has been upon the idea of the "panoptican" or the mechanism by which the labourer can never know if he is being watched. Another form of coerced labour management though, is...

  • Lives Wrought in the Furnace: New Research on the Labor Force at Catoctin Furnace (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Elizabeth A. Comer.

    Starting in 1776, Catoctin Furnace was a thriving iron-making community at the base of the Catoctin Mountains in northern Frederick County, Maryland. Enslaved blacks and European immigrants comprised the labor force. The growth of large iron-making corporations ultimately doomed this rural industrial complex, and it ceased operation in 1903. We know much about the owners of the complex. However, the story of the laborers is only beginning to emerge. Several archaeological reports and a recent...

  • "People in this town had a hard life. We had a hard life": Creating and Re-Creating ‘Patchtown’ History in the Anthracite Region of Northeastern Pennsylvania (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only V. Camille Westmont.

    The modern Northeastern Pennsylvanian landscape is dotted with coal "patchtowns" – villages and towns where coal miners, textile mill operatives, and their families lived and adapted coping mechanisms to survive Northeastern Pennsylvania’s gilded age of industry. Today, the majority of these industries and, by extension, jobs, have relocated or disappeared altogether, while the patchtowns and their residents have remained. Public archaeology has opened the door to exploring how patchtown...

  • Who is "Free" Today?: Negotiating the documentary record of labor history for archaeology (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michael P Roller.

    Beginning with Marx, labor history was founded upon illuminating the role the working class can play in challenging our system of political economy. As vogelfrei (literally "bird-free") or rightless, unprotected bodies condemned to only sell their labor, the lives of the working class have been imagined to inhabit a kind of empty raw inertia propelling mass social change. Labor history has responded to this basic idea throughout its disciplinary history, changing with material, political,...