I know that I’ve probably taxed the patience of my regular readers by peppering this venerable blog with fragments from my book over the last few years. I did this for lots of reason, not the least of which is to give a window into how the academic sausage is made, to share some of my current research, and to make some more experiment (or at least “mental” writing) public.
I’m coming very close to sending back my revised book manuscript to my very patient editors and I’m adding final touches, checking citations, and wondering whether I did enough to address the not insignificant concerns of my reviewers.
As part of the final tweaking to my introduction, I add the follow paragraphs to try (a bit plaintively, I might add) to explain why the book has the priorities and limits that it does. You can read more about the book here and my broader research here.
Here’s my the very end of my introduction:
Because this book developed organically from the two case studies that appear in chapter one and chapter eight, it is in some ways limited in how it engages the field, in some ways, and perhaps more expansive than one might expect, in others. For example, the field of forensic anthropology or disaster archaeology largely fell outside the scope of my case studies, even though it often involves research that would fall into the fuzzy chronological limits of “the contemporary world” (Gould 2007). It has also developed its own disciplinary discourse and methods over the last three decades (Powers and Sibun 2013). Archaeology of race, gender, sexuality, and identity, while incredible fertile grounds for archaeological research in recent decades, does not appear in this book under distinct headings, but forms an obvious foundation to many of these chapters. As the archaeology of the contemporary American experience continues to develop as a field, I anticipate that it will contribute in significant ways to the archaeology of contemporary race and gender, but as yet, these important areas remain relatively unexplored. My book also presents an American experience that extends well beyond the boundaries of North America and entangles traditional approaches to American historical archaeology with the flourishing field of archaeological contemporary world in Europe. This is in keeping with the approaches championed by groups such as CHAT with its European and American membership, and my own sense that this is the best way to address pressing planetary situations such as climate change and environmental degradation on a global scale. This has then informed my decision to focus the potentially expansive remit of this book in the area where I have.
Of course, it is entirely possible that my reading of the field is wrong and that my oversights represent blinders imposed by my own sites, research priorities, and political anxieties. In fact, I expect that some readers will find this book to be inadequate or simply too idiosyncratic to be useful or helpful. My hope is that these readers, however, will recognize that for whatever its flaws, this book is only the first word in a rapidly developing field and this makes it quite distinct from many of the more narrowly situated works that have appeared in this series. It is my hope that future books on topics such as the archaeology of contemporary race, a queer archaeology of the modern American experience, and the archaeology of gender in the twenty-first century will fill in gaps, shift priorities, and consolidate the field in new and important ways.