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Historical Archaeology

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 3–24 | Cite as

The Archaeology of Machinic Consumerism: The Logistics of the Factory Floor in Everyday Life

  • Michael P. RollerEmail author
Original Article
  • 35 Downloads

Abstract

In the period after the First World War a new kind of Machine Age mass consumerism was developed as a parsimonious solution to twin crises confronting the country, one political and the other economic. This machinic consumerism was the key to the integration and intensification of a heterogeneous network composed of new commodity forms, infrastructure, logistics, financial and governmental structures, landscapes, subjectivities, and machinic processes. A theoretical framework developed out of Marx’s reflections on the use of machines on the factory floor is effective in illuminating the many nodes of this assemblage. Recognizing the linkages within a machinic network requires transcending traditional dualisms between micro- and macro-processes, histories and presents, humans and machines, and material and ideological processes. An archaeological assemblage excavated from a coal-company town shanty enclave in Pennsylvania provides examples of how artifact morphologies reflect the infrastructure, landscapes, aesthetics, advertising strategies, and media effects of these developments.

Keywords

consumerism labor history modernity mechanization twentieth century critical theory anthracite coal Pennsylvania 

Extracto

En el período después de la Primera Guerra Mundial, se desarrolló un nuevo tipo de consumismo de masas de la edad de las máquinas como una solución parsimoniosa a dos crisis que enfrentaba el país, una política y la otra económica. Este consumismo "maquínico" era la clave para la integración y la intensificación de una red heterogénea compuesta de nuevas formas de mercancías, infraestructura, logística, estructuras financieras y gubernamentales, paisajes, subjetividades y procesos maquínicos. Un marco teórico desarrollado a partir de las reflexiones de Marx sobre el uso de las máquinas en las fábricas es eficaz para iluminar los múltiples nodos de este ensamble. El reconocimiento de los vínculos dentro de una red maquínica requiere superar dualismos tradicionales entre los procesos micro y macro, la historia y el presente, los seres humanos y las máquinas, los procesos y materiales e ideológicos. Un ensamble arqueológico excavado de un barrio marginal en un pueblo dominado por una compañía de carbón en Pensilvana ofrece ejemplos de cómo las morfologías de artefactos reflejan el impacto de estos acontecimientos en la infraestructura, paisajes, estética, estrategias de publicidad y medios de comunicación.

Résumé

Après la Première Guerre mondiale, un nouveau genre de consumérisme en masse de l’ère des Machines a vu le jour comme solution parcimonieuse aux crises jumelles auxquelles le pays faisait face, une politique et l’autre économique. Ce consumérisme « machinique » fut la clé de l’intégration et l’intensification d’un réseau hétérogène de nouvelles formes de marchandises et d’infrastructures, logistiques, structures financières et gouvernementales, paysages, subjectivités et processus automatisés nouveaux. Un cadre théorique inspiré des réflexions de Marx sur l’utilisation des machines d’usine permet d’efficacement faire la lumière sur les nombreuses charnières de cet assemblage. La reconnaissance des liens d’un réseau machinique exige de transcender les dualités traditionnelles entre les processus micro et macro, l’histoire et le présent et les processus humains et machinistes, ainsi que matériels et idéologiques. Un assemblage archéologique excavé d’un camp charbonnier de Pennsylvanie démontre comment les morphologies d’artefact reflètent l’infrastructure, les paysages, l’esthétisme, les stratégies promotionnelles et les effets médiatiques desdits développements.

Notes

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© Society for Historical Archaeology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of MarylandWashingtonU.S.A.

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