Capitalism: Historical Archaeology

  • Susan KepecsEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-51726-1_1375-2

Introduction

The development and persistence of capitalism is one of the big questions about the trajectory of humankind, equal in importance to the rise of agriculture and sedentism or the advent of the state. Though the time and place of its beginnings are a matter of debate, capitalism is a relatively recent phenomenon, falling squarely within the epoch of written history. For these reasons, capitalism is an anthropological subject and a historical one, and because it is a materialist scheme bound up in the production of commodities, the archaeological record holds crucial information about the ways in which the capitalist system has played out in peoples’ lives. Many researchers, especially those in the capitalist core – the USA and Europe – argue that capitalism is the central subject of historical archaeology (e.g., Johnson 1996: 1–3; Leone and Potter 2003: 19; Matthews 2010; Orser 1996: 71–81). (It is worth noting here that though China today is also a capitalist force, there...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Patricia Fournier
    • 1
  1. 1.Posgrado en ArqueologíaEscuela Nacional de Antropología e HistoriaMéxicoMexico