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Up Close and Personal: feeling the past at urban historical archaeological sites

Author(s): Tracy Ireland

Year: 2014

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Historical memory is increasingly being given material form in urban spaces. In the cities founded by settler colonialism the ‘archaeological imagination’ is now a means via which material memories are constructed, grounding genealogy, national origins and empathy for individuals caught up in histories both tumultuous and quotidian. I compare archaeological sites conserved in situ in Sydney, Australia, with Pointe-à-Callière in Montreal and the President’s House in Philadelphia to explore Sara Ahmed’s concept of ‘affective economies’’where emotional responses to the materiality of the past are experienced at the individual level, but are also practiced in a collective context, with the usual political and ethical implications. I argue that an understanding of the affective, aesthetic qualities of ruins and archaeological traces, and of how people, places and things participate in social lives created and sustained by experiences of authenticity, locality and identity, brings us closer to understanding the desire for heritage.

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Up Close and Personal: feeling the past at urban historical archaeological sites. Tracy Ireland. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437013)

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-47,04

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America