Capitalism in motion

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In this article, we take up Oilman's (2014) challenge that historical archaeology should explore the motion of capitalism both in space and time. We discuss capitalism as a dynamic totality and use this to develop the implications for historical archaeology in two different but interconnected ways. First, we use the rich context of Lowell, Massachusetts, to provide a detailed analysis of how capitalism developed in a single place. The second ease uses several archaeological sites from across the U.S. to highlight capitalism's motion from the perspective of a single commodity, coal. We link labor and the environment, past and present, to highlight the folly of seeing the exploitation of workers and the environment is as an accepted part of capitalist economic development. Understanding capitalism in motion is more than just a future research direction for historical archaeology because without these critical understandings people may not have a future at all.

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Historical Archaeology