Anarchism and Historical Archaeology

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2017

A central element of anarchist thought is the critique of hierarchy in human society. Other topics of interest include the development of horizontal power structures, decentralization, free association, and various approaches to consensus building. Of course, one does not have to identify as an anarchist to draw upon the diversity of perspectives coexisting within the umbrella of anarchism. This session seeks to understand the ways anarchist theory can inform historical archaeology, and, if possible, the ways historical archaeology may contribute to anarchism. Although anarchist ideas have existed for millennia (e.g., Daosim), it's emergence as a political philosophy in the late 17th and early 18th centuries suggests that historical archaeologists have an important role to play in articulating the intersections between anarchy and archaeology. This session seeks to foster a dialogue regarding these intersections. We will also begin charting future directions regarding the incorporation of anarchism as a living theory within historical archaeology.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-4 of 4)

  • Documents (4)

  • Anarchy in the New-Found-Land: Winter Houses and Decentralized Power in the Rural North Atlantic (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Anatolijs Venovcevs.

    Up until recently, historical archaeologists working on the island of Newfoundland have focused primarily on studying the rich archaeological remains of the summer cod fishery and the plantations left behind by the island’s mercantile aristocracy. However, this work overlooks the social realities of the island that primarily consisted of small coastal communities inhabited primarily by working class fishing families living far away from any obvious authority figures. This paper seeks to...

  • Building an Anarchist Historical Archaeological Theory (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Edward Gonzalez-Tennant.

    The goal of this paper is the articulation of an anarchist historical archaeological theory. The emergence of anarchism as a political philosophy in the late-17th/early-18th centuries suggests that historical archaeologists are well-positioned to articulate the intersections between anarchy and archaeology. This paper provides a brief overview of the central tenets of anarchist theory, and particularly its robust criticism of hierarchy. Anarchists continue to explore issues related to horizontal...

  • The Dynamite Bombings of African-American Homes in mid-20th Century Dallas: Anarchistic Perspectives and Resurrecting the Memory of Domestic Terrorism (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only James Davidson. Edward Gonzalez-Tennant.

    A series of dynamite bombings of black residences rocked the communities of Dallas in the 1940s and early 1950s.  Although acknowledged by the local and national press while the attacks were ongoing, these events are not a part of the popular or normative history of the city.  Current state and federal antiquities laws would almost certainly not perceive these properties as culturally or historically significant, and their materiality could remain unacknowledged and invisible.  While the act of...

  • Toward an Archaeology of Self-Liberation (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Charles Orser.

    Hierarchical, capitalist society, though inherently domineering and oppressive, creates spaces for self-actualization. These spaces, most often transitory and short-lived, allow for a degree of class-based self-liberation. Using ideas from anarchist thinkers, I explore the concept of self-liberation with specific reference to two archaeological sites: the seventeenth-century maroon community of Palmares in northeast Brazil, and a nineteenth-century tenant-farming community in central Ireland...