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The political economy of a commercial archaeology a Quebec case-study

Zorzin, Nicholas (2010) The political economy of a commercial archaeology a Quebec case-study University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis , 744pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)


Capitalist logic, its impact on the practice of archaeology, and on the professional lives of those who participate within its political economy are the subject for this analysis. I have chosen as my unit of analysis commercial archaeology in Quebec, Canada. This context was chosen because of its progressive transformation from a semi, state-regulated archaeological system to one that is competitive and comparable to those found in the UK and the USA.

Commercial archaeology, as governed by a neoliberal economic system, has fundamentally altered how archaeology?s contributions are brought about, maintained and disseminated. But what about those who produce archaeology, has their relationship to the profession changed as a result of neoliberal economics?

The objective of this thesis is to address and evaluate the argument against neoliberal economics and contribute to current critiques regarding capitalist economics by posing the following question: does the implementation of a neoliberal economy in archaeology sustain the accomplishment of a meaningful and valuable archaeological activity for archaeologists and the public?

Within this dissertation, an ethnographic approach to data collection permits the exploration of the experience of socioeconomic changes upon the lives of archaeologists, experience which is articulated in their own discourses. I also employ qualitative demographic and economic data, and participant observation. The characteristics of the archaeological network in Quebec are further illustrated through a comparative analysis with the system of commercial archaeology in the UK.

Research results demonstrate that the present market economy is harmful to the development of archaeological products, primarily because of the alienation of the product from the archaeologists and the public. Alternatives to the current economic system have been developed. However, these options suffer from under-funding. I propose that new models of practice for archaeology must be explored and given credence, if there is to be a perpetuation of the profession within the cultural landscape of western societies.

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Published date: December 2010
Organisations: University of Southampton, Archaeology


Local EPrints ID: 344777
PURE UUID: b71c5ba5-ec8e-4171-b437-4dd70890ceaf

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Date deposited: 31 Oct 2012 11:32
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 05:14

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Author: Nicholas Zorzin
Thesis advisor: Yannis Hamilakis
Thesis advisor: Matthew Johnson

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