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date: 15 December 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Archaeological methodologies direct our attention towards the study of present, material things. This is frequently praised as its greatest contribution to social theory. But humans cultivate relationships with absent things as well, and these absent things can be marked and assertive, exerting a powerful influence on society despite their immateriality. How, then, to engage in an archaeological study of absent things? And how might we undertake this project without slipping into the romantic notion that absences are necessarily mournful, in the sense that so many authors now write of the absence of the past as tragedy of the present? Here, it is argued that this issue has a special relevance to the archaeology of the contemporary past, and the authors draw upon recent excavations at the New Buffalo Commune-a 1960s and 1970s hippie commune in New Mexico-to explore the shifting relationships between modernity and absence on the one hand, and between absence and desire on the other.

Keywords: absence, counterculture, hippies, primitivism, voluntary simplicity

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