MIGRATION, MODERNITY AND MEMORY: THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY IN A NORTHEAST PENNSYLVANIA COAL COMPANY TOWN, 1897-2014
Roller, Michael Peter
Shackel, Paul A
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The Lattimer Massacre occurred in September of 1897 in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania. It has been described as the bloodiest massacre of the nineteenth century. In this event, a company-sponsored sheriff and a posse of local businessmen shot into a crowd of striking Eastern European mine laborers, resulting in the deaths of at least nineteen. However, the great significance of the event is not in the body count but the material contexts of its occurrence as well as its pre- and post- histories. Moreover, while the event can be securely consigned to history, the capitalist processes punctuated by this instance of violence are present throughout the century since its occurrence. In the region, coal company towns materialized carefully maintained racialized labor hierarchies in which new immigrants were confined to shanty towns at the periphery. The dissertation operates on an archaeological scale stretched across the longue durée of the twentieth century, documenting the transformation of a shanty town into an American suburb over the course of a century. The archaeological evidence hails from three excavations including a survey of the site of the Massacre and excavations of lots in the shanty enclave. This dissertation examines the trajectory of these settlements across the entire span of the twentieth century. With its primary evidence derived from waste, ruins, surpluses and redundancies accumulated over time, archaeological tellings of history recognize these aspects not simply for their contingency, but their centrality within capitalist social life across the passage of time. In this dissertation, I propose that a critical historical archaeology can contribute substantially to a nuanced understanding of the ironic developments of late twentieth century political economy. Contradiction, sovereignty, governmentality, states of exception, surplus enjoyment, cycles of creative destruction and reterritorialization, renewal, and subjectivation are explored by juxtaposing, grafting and merging archaeological evidence with social theory, textual evidence, ethnographic data and interdisciplinary scholarship to present an archaeological history greater than the sum of its parts. The result is both a history of the community and a schematic for an archaeological history of the twentieth century.