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Co-Archaeology: working towards the present through the complex nature of archaeology of the 18th to 20th centuries

Alex Hale

Cite this as: Hale, A. 2024 Co-Archaeology: working towards the present through the complex nature of archaeology of the 18th to 20th centuries, Internet Archaeology 66.


This article gives a concise introduction to some of the potential benefits of studying the archaeology of the 18th to 20th centuries. Using a selection of examples, it aims to provide guides to multi-, inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches to the material culture from this period. It reflects on some of the archaeological remains, the theoretical frameworks and the practices that originated in the 18th to 20th centuries and remain pertinent to those who focus on this period today. By outlining some of the general theoretical underpinnings, and the range of established and emerging practices within what we know as the Anthropocene, it will enable researchers to recognise that they are not alone in their endeavours to explore, interpret, manage and learn from the complex recent pasts.

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  • Keywords: archaeology, co-archaeology, literature purview, case studies, street culture archaeology, graffiti, skateboarding, nightclub
  • Accepted: 31 Oct 2023. Published: 21 March 2024
  • Funding: The publication of this article is funded by the European Archaeological Council.
  • PDF download (main article text only)

Corresponding author: Alex HaleORCID logo
Historic Environment Scotland

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Figure 1: Photo of the participants who attended and contributed to the 2023 EAC symposium in Bonn (Image credit: T. Kersting)

Figure 2: Signs at the Faslane Peace Camp, Gare Loch, Scotland, that announce the presence of activism and resistance to the nuclear arms housed in the adjacent naval base. (Copyright: HES, Canmore image DP00260058)

Figure 3: Independence graffiti painted on Sea Boulder at Dumbarton Rock, read 'Soar Alba' and 'Free Scotland', and date from the first Scottish devolution referendum, held in 1979 (Copyright: Alex Hale)

Figure 4: Pencil graffiti written on a door panel at Scalan Mills. The graffiti ranges from everyday events such as the cost of a new plough, to the devastating climatic events that have lasting effects on the farm community (Copyright: Alex Hale)

Figure 5: One of the radomes of the Cold War listening station on the Teufelsberg, Berlin. The space has been through more than three different iterations in the past 80 years and currently provides a performance space for artists (Copyright: Alex Hale)

Figure 6: Three Stolperstein in a Berlin suburb mark the time and place where my great aunt, great grandmother and step great grandfather died, rather than perish at the hands of the Nazis (Copyright: Alex Hale)

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Further reading

Contemporary and Historical Archaeology in Theory

Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology


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