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That Was Then, This Is Now: Contemporary Archaeology and Material Cultures in Australia

That Was Then, This Is Now is a compendium of innovative research into the ideas, experiences, and iconographies embodied in materialities of the recent past. Drawing upon a variety of disciplines, including archaeology, history, art, and cultural geography, authors examine themes of relevance to the contemporary world, such as the impacts of automobility, the invisible effects of radioactivity, and the scale of future cities. It serves as a reminder, moreover, that issues that confront us as global citizens – mass consumption, population growth, technological development, and the conditions of belonging – find expression in the everyday objects, images and vestiges encountered in our ordinary lives.

Through their examination of such artefacts as comic books, road memorials, bullet holes, showbags and cable ties, the authors explore the complex relations between people, places, and things and the emotions underpinning them – nostalgia, play, grief, and humour. Issues and ideas of international scope are addressed through a focused approach as authors locate their site-specific studies in both rural and urban geographies, as well as in the spaces of the imagination, the universe and even the personal home.

Given the enormous scale and diversity of material generated by the practices of living in the present, it is difficult to imagine how the archaeologies and material cultures of the contemporary world may be defined. The studies presented here offer a way forward, and, in doing so, point reflexively to the past, as well as the now and the future of things to come.


Ursula K. Frederick is an artist and archaeologist based at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her research focuses on the production, reception and interpretation of visual and material cultures, past and present. She has published on rock art, graffiti, contact archaeology, object biography, and contemporary art. As an art practitioner, Ursula works primarily in photography, film, print-media and installation, and has exhibited her artwork in Australia, China, Europe, Peru and the USA. For her doctorate, Ursula completed a study of car culture aesthetics and enthusiasms, while her most recent research includes the history and archaeology of inscriptions made at the former North Head Quarantine Station, Sydney.

Anne Clarke is Associate Professor in Archaeology and Heritage Studies at the University of Sydney, where she is the Degree Director for the Master’s in Museum and Heritage Studies. Her research focuses on the archaeology of Arnhem Land, the archaeology of cross-cultural engagement and colonialism, rock art and mark-making practices, ethnographic collections and objects, community archaeology, narrative and archaeology, and heritage. Her current collaborative research projects include ‘The Quarantine Project’, an archaeological and historical study of inscriptions at the North Head Quarantine Station, Sydney, and ‘Excavating MacGregor: re-connecting a colonial museum collection’, a study of 19th century ethnographic museum collections from Papua New Guinea.

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Harriot Beazley

Stephen Brown

Jennifer Clark

Anne Clarke

Roland Fletcher

Alice Gorman

Darran Jordan

Robert Maxwell

Buy This Book

ISBN: 1-4438-8538-X

ISBN13: 978-1-4438-8538-6

Release Date: 10th February 2016

Pages: 204

Price: £47.99

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