Tim Murray spoke at the Seminar in Cultural History on Wednesday, October 7, 2015. His talk was entitled “Building Transnational Historical Archaeologies of the Modern World.”



Tim Murray is Charles La Trobe Professor of Archaeology at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. A practicing archaeologist with an interest in history and epistemology, his research and publication has focused on the history and philosophy of archaeology, the archaeology of the modern world, and heritage archaeology. His most recent books include World Antiquarianism Comparative Perspectives (co-edited with Alain Schnapp, Lothar von Falkenhausen and Peter Miller, Getty Research Institute, 2013), An Archaeology of Institutional Confinement. The Hyde Park Barracks, 1848-1886 (co-authored with Peter Davies and Penny Crook, Sydney University Press, 2013), and From Antiquarian to Archaeologist: The history and philosophy of archaeology (Pen and Sword Press, 2014). His current projects are based around the general theme of transnational archaeologies in the long 19th century, with particular focus on ‘contact’ archaeology, urban archaeology and technology transfer, and demonstrating the importance of the history of archaeology for building more robust archaeological theory.

The purpose of Dr. Murray’s talk at Bard Graduate center was to explore some particular aspects of contemporary research in historical archaeology, a large and complex field that has grown swiftly in North America, South Africa and Australia since its inception in the USA in the early 1960s. The late Jim Deetz, whose book In Small Things Forgotten remains one of the best introductions to the field, defined historical archaeology as “the spread of European culture throughout the world since the fifteenth century and its impact on indigenous peoples” (1977: 5). Given its genesis as the archaeology of the European colonization of North America, at its core historical archaeology has always sought to deal with two major concerns. First, how to make a contribution to cognate disciplines such as history and anthropology (and to persuade the practitioners of either that the archaeology of the modern world has something significant to offer). Second, how to articulate local, regional, national and global scales in interpretation and analysis. In his talk, Dr. Murray has chosen to focus on just a few issues and context of this very broad field: settler indigenous relations, the establishment of colonies, the transfer of agricultural, manufacturing and managerial technologies, the movements of people and material culture, and the development of cities in the modern world and, in so doing, to explore both national and transnational issues.