New open access book: A Contemporary Archaeology of London’s Mega Events (UCL Press)

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UCL Press is delighted to announce the publication of a new open access book that may be of interest to list subscribers: A Contemporary Archaeology of London’s Mega Events, by Jonathan Gardner.
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A Contemporary Archaeology of London’s Mega Events

By Jonathan Gardner.
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A Contemporary Archaeology of London’s Mega Events explores the traces of London’s most significant modern ‘mega events’. Though only open for a few weeks or months, mega events permanently and disruptively reshape their host cities and societies: they demolish and rebuild whole districts, they draw in materials and participants from around the globe and their organisers self-consciously seek to leave a ‘legacy’ that will endure for decades or more.

With London as his case study, Jonathan Gardner argues that these spectacles must be seen as long-lived and persistent, rather than simply transient or short-term. Using a novel methodology drawn from the field of contemporary archaeology – the archaeology of the recent past and present-day – a broad range of comparative studies are used to explore the long-term history of each event. These include the contents and building materials of the Great Exhibition’s Crystal Palace and their extraordinary ‘afterlife’ at Sydenham, South London; how the Festival of Britain’s South Bank Exhibition employed displays of ancient history to construct a new post-war British identity; and how London 2012, as the latest of London’s mega events, dealt with competing visions of the past as archaeology, waste and heritage in its efforts to create a positive legacy for future generations.

This book offers significant new directions for the study of mega events in its comparison of how three mega events changed London over three centuries. Drawing on a varied selection of theoretical and methodological frameworks and a rich array of sources, it demonstrates the great potential of contemporary archaeology for re-examining recent processes of urban transformation.

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