Introduction: scales and voices in world historical archaeology
Gilchrist, R. (2005) Introduction: scales and voices in world historical archaeology. World Archaeology, 37 (3). pp. 329-336. ISSN 0043-8243
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1080/00438240500168335
This paper briefly sets the scene for the articles that follow, introducing some key debates that have characterized the recent practice of historical archaeology. The definition of historical archaeology is explored according to parameters of chronology and methodology, drawing a distinction between New World traditions that define the subject as 'post-Columbian' and Old World approaches that establish broader connections with the 'documentary archaeology' of all literate societies. Current issues in European and American historical archaeology are highlighted, including the gradual breakdown of the medieval/post-medieval divide and the call for a global 'modern-world archaeology' to address the 'grand historical narratives' of the period, such as capitalism, economic improvement, and consumerism. The resistance to this global research agenda is explored with reference to archaeologies of diaspora and postcolonialism, which demand local perspectives to explore diversity and meaning. Finally, the innovative use of community archaeology and multi-vocality is introduced, with particular reference to the experimental narratives pursued by American historical archaeologists, in their new role as 'storytellers'.