Decomposing Capital: The Two Sides of Industrial Decay in Mill Creek Ravine

Author(s): Haeden E Stewart

Year: 2020


This is an abstract from the session entitled "Historical Archaeology of Capitalism’s Cracks" , at the 2020 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

In an age of virulent exploitation and ecological devastation, the decaying waste of capitalist production does not just reflect unjust relations of production, it also serves as a medium for toxic pollutants that harm vulnerable communities and landscapes. Focusing on the negativity embodied in decay, critical theory has also frequently turned to the decomposing piles of capitalist waste and ruins in order to critique and destabilize the fantasies of completeness and progress that define capitalist society.  Drawing from excavations at Ross Acreage (Edmonton, AB), an early twentieth-century shantytown that developed downstream of major industry, this paper argues that archaeological excavation can interrogate the decay of industrial waste as both a medium of historical harms, revealing the historical interconnections between economic exploitation and toxicity, as well as a critical reflection upon the tactics of survival in a polluted landscape and the limits of capital to determine social and ecological life.

Cite this Record

Decomposing Capital: The Two Sides of Industrial Decay in Mill Creek Ravine. Haeden E Stewart. 2020 ( tDAR id: 457028)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

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): 552