So far my effort to write an introduction to my book on the archaeology of the contemporary American experience has been more challenging that I initially expected. Since the book isn’t going to be long (~70,000 words), the introduction isn’t going to be long. Moreover, since the book is going to be a survey of sorts, I would not necessarily have to spend too much time unpacking the historiography of the archaeology of the contemporary world as this will be done over the course of a series of more focused chapters. Because my introduction will be short and it needn’t be an exhaustive literature review, I decided to do something more focused (and concise), but as I started to write I found myself unsatisfied.
Initially my intention was to write a short (around 5000 words) essay on the role of time in the archaeology of the contemporary. This, however, seemed like a dense and abstract way to start this book and something that might be unappealing to readers interested mostly in the survey of recent work and less interested in the conceptual underpinning of the contemporaneity in archaeology.
As I began to revise my introduction, I though it might be better to anchor it in four short (~1200) discussions. First, I have written a series of brief vignettes that introduce the reader to four examples of the history of the contemporary American experience. I’ve posted it here. Second, I’ve mostly drafted a brief history of the earliest efforts to apply archaeology to the study of the contemporary American experience. Third will be a section that would situate the archaeology of the American experience in the larger context of the archaeology of the contemporary world and emphasize the interest in globalization in American historical archaeology as the foundation for locating the archaeology of contemporary America in a global context. Fourth, I still nee to include something on time and the contemporary in archaeology both to frame the chronological scope of the archaeology of the contemporary and unpack the potential for contemporaneity to produce more inclusive narratives.
Finally, I need to outline the book and that will likely take another 1000-1500 words bringing my introduction in at a little under 7000 words.
Wish me luck.