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date: 05 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reflects on the state of the field and assesses what the approaches represented in this volume collectively can achieve; the strengths, weaknesses, and potential of historical ecology and applied archaeology and the overlap between them. Definitions drawing on the discourse developed in the volume of both concepts are offered, and the opportunities and challenges of inter- and transdisciplinary research are summarized. The future of a usable past is discussed by contextualizing volume chapters in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals. It is suggested that research in the fields of historical ecology and applied archaeology follows three main approaches: (1) generating case studies of the past as difference, elucidating phenomena in the past that may suggest alternative possibilities to those observed in the present; (2) informing phenomena observed in the present by generating analogous case studies from the past; and (3) detailing the dynamics of long-term human–environmental processes.

Keywords: historical ecology, applied archaeology, the usable past, sustainable development goals, transdisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity

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