Archaeology and Contemporary Capitalism

Author(s): Peter Gould

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Archaeology Out-of-the-Box: Investigating the Edge of the Discipline" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Hamilakis and Duke first considered the relationship between "Archaeology and Capitalism" in 2007. In the intervening decade, contemporary capitalism has changed vastly, relocating and concentrating wealth and economic power, constraining national sovereignty in globalized markets, disrupting industries through technology at an accelerating pace, and exacerbating demographic and social pressures. The neoliberal consensus among economists in the early 2000s has splintered, austerity-driven government policies have undermined official support for archaeological research and museums, philanthropy's turn toward "effective altruism" and "impact mesaurement" have called into question the value and even the ethics of supporting archaeology, and tentative steps have been taken toward engaging market forces and digital economies in support of archaeology. Such conditions call into question the ethics of engagement with capitalist forces, yet also underscore the necessity for archaeology to adapt to new realities if funding, and public and political support are not to wither. This paper will revisit the relationship between archaeology and contemporary capitalism, reassess the critical perspectives of a decade ago, and consider whether and, if so, in what fashion, capitalist motivations, market forces, and business technologies may be engaged to promote archaeology and offset the consequences of austerity, the new philanthropy, and changing public priorities.

Cite this Record

Archaeology and Contemporary Capitalism. Peter Gould. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450415)

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22785