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The Archaeological Imagination
Michael Shanks
167 pp. / 6.00 x 9.00 / Mar, 2012
Paperback (978-1-59874-362-3)
Hardback (978-1-59874-361-6)
eBook (978-1-61132-417-4)
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Related Interest
  - Archaeology

Archaeology is a way of acting and thinking—about what is left of the past, about the temporality of what remains, about material and temporal processes to which people and their goods are subject,
"This short, provocative book extends an expanding field of enquiry, studies of the wider discourse of archaeology, before and beyond its formalisation as a professional, academic discipline. "


"Michael Shanks has dared to produce another innovative volume, knowing too well that he would face criticisms from different quarters. It is impossible to please everybody, thank god! In any case, the volume forces readers to interact with it, fostering discussion and debate, well beyond the prosaic positivist and empirical practice of the discipline, and this is no mean task. "

- PEDRO PAULO A. FUNARI, European Journal of Archaeology

"Michael Shanks, with all his wit, charm and smarts, shows us how the world of contemporary object studies--art history, archaeology and anthropology--is the living heir to the long thought dead antiquarian tradition. With this Copernican Revolution many old warhorse categories fall away and new ways of thinking materiality come into clear focus."

- Peter N. Miller, Bard Graduate Center

"In his new book Michael Shanks expands the perception of archaeology to include its penetrating role in modern society. In doing so he also proposes to expand its theoretical repertoire to deal with this new ‘imagined territory’ by taking us back to the historical origins of archaeological thinking. It is a fascinating intellectual journey that will not leave you untouched."

- Kristian Kristiansen, University of Gothenburg

"This important book provides a much-needed critical perspective revealing the intellectual, historical and practical depths of archaeology's embedded role within cultural production. Presenting archaeology as creative practice, Shanks frees the archaeological sensibility from its dependence on positivistic science to enjoy the riches of transdisciplinary creativity which it never should be denied. The Archaeological Imagination is a long overdue and potent source of inspiration for practitioners across the humanities, sciences and visual and material arts, reminding us that the past as narrative and image is a precious resource, but one that is renewable through well-intentioned, reflexive acts of creative mediation."

- Ian Alden Russell, Brown University

about the processes of order and entropy, of making, consuming and discarding at the heart of human experience. These elements, and the practices that archaeologists follow to uncover them, is the essence of the archaeological imagination. In this extended essay, renowned archaeological theorist Michael Shanks offers his colleagues and students a window on this imaginative world of past and present and the creative role archaeology can play in uncovering it, analyzing it, and interpreting it.

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