Who is "Free" Today?: Negotiating the documentary record of labor history for archaeology

Author(s): Michael P Roller

Year: 2015


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, economic and social conditions. Drawing from the example of transhistorical research on immigration and work in Northeast Pennsylvania, I will explore these ideas, drawing possible directions for the field of labor archaeology. I ask the following questions: Who today, if any, occupies this paradoxical role? How can labor history use archaeological data to interpret this idea, drawing from the insights and weaknesses of labor history’s documentations? How can these ideas direct archaeological research on inequality today?

Cite this Record

Who is "Free" Today?: Negotiating the documentary record of labor history for archaeology. Michael P Roller. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Seattle, Washington. 2015 ( tDAR id: 433751)


Temporal Keywords
20th Century

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 175