Charles E. Orser, Jr.,
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, Tennessee

From the reviews . . .

“Orser presents an excellent overview of his topic and provides much to think about. His clear and concise introduction to the theoretical underpinnings of modern-world archaeology alone makes the book worth reading. Orser should be commended for reiterating the importance of viewing sites within broader contexts, and also articulating the strengths and relevance of archaeology as a discipline.”
Brad Botwick in North American Archaeologist

“Orser raises many good and interesting points about historical archaeology and its role . . . . [W]hether you are a novice or a practicing archaeologist who wants to understand and engage modern-world archaeology, you will want this volume on your shelves. It is the newest, best statement of the overarching approach of one of the major theorists of global, modern archaeology.”
Jamie C. Brandon in American Antiquity

“The Primer is certainly a valuable publication, very readable and with the essay questions fun to consider even for those who no longer find themselves in the position to do coursework. I am sure it will be at the centre of many a debate and I hope it finds audiences beyond American historical archaeology.”
James R. Dixon in Post-Medieval Archaeology

“Orser argues strongly for modern-world archaeology because he believes that the archaeology of the past 500 years is much more relevant to the modern world than other archaeologies. A Primer on Modern-World Archaeology reflects his commitment to this research program. The book gives students easy access to modern-world archaeology and is a quick read for archaeologists who want to understand Orser’s program.”
Randall H. McGuire in Journal of Anthropological Research

“[M]eets all the requirements a primer must have. The book could not be clearer and easier to read. It is also illustrated with eloquent archaeological examples and . . . a selection of useful references . . . . It works at different scales, helping the student in search of understanding of historical archaeology, the archaeologist unfamiliar with this branch of the discipline, and all those who want to go further in its intricacies.”
Sandra Montón-Subías in European Journal of Archaeology

“As a primer, Orser’s book adopts a concise format; its eight short chapters briskly tackle big topics of global reach and cultural sensitivity. The text is a model of clarity. Complex and interrelated issues are teased apart and articulated with sufficient technical language for precision but no more. For students, each chapter concludes with an annotated bibliography and study questions.”
Robert Witcher in Antiquity

Prepublication praise . . .

“Charles Orser returns to the haunts he introduced in the late 1990s, updates them, and inspires us to consider how ‘modern-world’ archaeological inquiry is relevant to our own time. His primer provides students with an intellectual platform to ensure that their research makes contributions to respectful, ethical, and sustainable decision making in cultural heritage and related fields.”
Kelly J. Dixon, University of Montana

“Charles Orser’s modern-world archaeology is an important intervention in the moribund literature of archaeological theory. With a deft hand, Orser lays out foundational principles for an archaeology that explains where we came from and where we are headed. This primer should be widely read by students and professionals interested in an archaeology that matters.”
Robert Paynter, University of Massachusetts

“Charles Orser is the leading theoretician in global historical archaeology. His modern-world archaeology combines historical archaeological investigations of past capitalism and colonialism with anthropological concerns with present consumerism, consumption, and globalization. An excellent introduction to the application of local methods that allow archaeologists to join global conversations.”
Jonathan Pragnell, University of Queensland

“This brief and well-written book will be useful to professionals and students at all levels, from first-year undergraduates to advanced graduate students. Even those who are already familiar with this material and approach will find the book engaging. Teaching and practicing modern-world archaeology, as defined in this new book, is both challenging and exhilarating.”
William R. Fowler, Vanderbilt University


Chapter 1.  Modern–World Archaeology

Chapter 2.  The Haunts

Chapter 3.  The Foundation

Chapter 4.  Structures

Chapter 5.  Microhistory

Chapter 6.  Artifacts

Chapter 7.  Challenges

Chapter 8.  The Future of Modern–World Archaeology



The inaugural volume in the series Principles of Archaeology

ISBN 978-0-9898249-2-7/paperback/182 pp./illus./September 2014/$29.95