Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial Heritage and Archaeology (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Social Sciences

Advisor 1

Don Lafreniere

Committee Member 1

Melissa Baird

Committee Member 2

Krysta Ryzewski

Committee Member 3

Sarah Fayen Scarlett


Postindustrial urban landscapes are large-scale, complex manifestations of the past in the present in the form of industrial ruins and archaeological sites, decaying infrastructure, and adaptive reuse; ongoing processes of postindustrial redevelopment often conspire to conceal the toxic consequences of long-term industrial activity. Understanding these phenomena is an essential step in building a sustainable future; despite this, the study of the postindustrial is still new, and requires interdisciplinary connections that remain either unexplored or underexplored. Archaeologists have begun to turn their attention to the modern industrial era and beyond. This focus carries the potential to deliver new understandings of the industrial and postindustrial city, yet archaeological attention to the postindustrial remains in its infancy. Developments in the ongoing digital revolution in archaeology and within the social sciences and humanities have the potential to contribute to the archaeological study of the postindustrial city. The development of historical GIS and historical spatial data infrastructures (HSDIs) using historical big data have enabled scholars to study the past over large spatial and temporal scales and support qualitative research, while retaining a high level of detail. This dissertation demonstrates how spatial technologies using big data approaches, especially the HSDI, enhance the archaeological study of postindustrial urban landscapes and ultimately contribute to meeting the “grand challenge” of integrating digital approaches into archaeology by coupling reflexive recording of archaeological knowledge production with globally accessible spatial digital data infrastructures. HSDIs show great potential for providing archaeologists working in postindustrial places with a means to curate and manipulate historical data on an industrial or urban scale, and to iteratively contextualize this longitudinal dataset with material culture and other forms of archaeological knowledge. I argue for the use of HSDIs as the basis for transdisciplinary research in postindustrial contexts, as a platform for linking research in the academy to urban decision-