To Animate the Monster: Public Archaeology of Capitalism

Author(s): LouAnn Wurst

Year: 2016


Metaphors connecting capitalism and the phantasmagorical have always been rampant. References to the ghostly and ghastly point to the contradiction that capitalism is equally pervasive and invisible or, at least, elided. While all aspects of the monstrous have become important narrative tropes in the modern world, we seldom use this same discourse to name capitalism as a monstrous system. And yet, the ghosts are restless; capitalism as a system has created a ‘nightmare world’ where the products of the dead dominate living labor. Based on research in New York’s Finger Lakes National Forest, I use narratives of farmer suicide past and present as an entry to the 'monstrosity' of global capitalism. My goal in this paper is to explore how we might use the familiarity of narratives of the phantasmagorical in a public archaeology program to develop the dialectical optics that expose capitalism as ‘an animated monster.’

Cite this Record

To Animate the Monster: Public Archaeology of Capitalism. LouAnn Wurst. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434475)

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Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 212