Introduction: The Past Made Public

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Shackel, Paul A. 2022. “Introduction: The Past Made Public.” In The Oxford Handbook of Industrial Archaeology, edited by Eleanor Casella and Michael Nevell, 1-12. NY: Oxford University Press.


Industrial sites archaeology has, for a long time, memorialized the benefits of industrial capitalism at the expense of those workers who toiled in the factories and mines. Research has often emphasized the great engineering feats of the past, while the history of labour has often been subordinated. By understanding and making the heritage of the working class prominent at industrial sites illuminates the differences between labour and capital in the past. This work can also provide new avenues to understanding inequalities in our contemporary world. The call for labour justice that developed as a result of the Lattimer miners’ strike in northeastern Pennsylvania, USA in 1897 is compared to the recent Marikana miners’ strike in South Africa. Many of the injustices in the mining industry that occurred in the USA and other western nations over a century ago now seem to be exported to developing countries.