Contemporary archaeology

The study of the contemporary world through the lens of archaeology was first established at the end of the 70s and beginning of the 80s. The early debate focused on the idea that archaeology should investigate the phenomena of “our” contemporary society, taking distance from the ethnoarchaeological approach which aimed at building replicable models, useful for the interpretation and understanding of ancient societies. However, in the 2000s, the birth of the discipline was formally sanctioned: contemporary society became a valuable target for archaeological research.
In the last two decades, contemporary archaeology has constantly evolved, dealing with the metamorphoses of our societies and placing the material evidence at the centre of its own reflection, constantly debating both the chronological boundaries of the discipline and the set of thematic strands that could be addressed through archaeological methods. The international research community has now come to a definition and a conscious planning of the discipline, while in Italy there has been no organic debate and reflection. There is rather an unconscious archaeology “of the contemporary”, understood as an occasional recording of 20th and 21st century archaeological data, and some sporadic experiments aimed at analysing the contemporary society through the archaeological (and more often still ethnoarchaeological) lens.

The MAPPA Laboratory is thus at the forefront in the archaeological study of today’s society, approaching different research axes, laying the foundations for a debate at the national level and developing projects focused on XX and XXI centuries.

Archaeology of undocumented contemporary migrations (2020-2023)

The archaeology of migrations represents a key to understand the social, geopolitical and cultural transformations of contemporary society. Within the Italian context, the archaeological investigation of undocumented contemporary migrations, currently absent, will allow us to recognize the material traces of this phenomenon as an evidence of actual anthropic activity.

ARAM (2022-2024)

The “mid-mountains” are those areas that are not strictly hilly or with high altitudes, where the habitable space represents a dialectical mediation in the changing physical conditions. It is a multifaceted and polysemic place, in a strong relationship between natural and cultural mountains. These places result from overlaying of abandonments that have registered its economic-social marginality.

WRITES (WRiting Is on ThE wallS) (2020 – 2023)

WRITES is a contemporary archaeology project that aims to verify the feasibility of the archaeological analysis of contemporary traces, such as graffiti, writings, drawings, stickers, posters, scattered on walls, facades, shutters, doors, gates in the historic centre of Pisa.

Every Thursday (2020 – 2023)

“Every Thursday” is a contemporary archeology project that aims at documenting the daily life during the period of quarantine imposed by the Italian government as a containment measure for the Covid-19 epidemic.

ISOLA (2022)

How can material culture be studied and documented in the globalization and consumption era?
The educational project  ISOLA wants to work on this issue through a multidisciplinary experience between Pisa and Lampedusa. The island of Lampedusa has been chosen as a microcosm where global and local complexity crossed and where it’s possible to read this phenomenon through left material traces.

Archaeology of border (2021)

The contemporary borders are the issue on the Special Teaching Project titled “Archaeology of Borders”, promoted by the class of Methodology of the Archaeological Research. The project plans a trans-disciplinary archaeological and anthropological path.“Archaeology of Border”, starting from the broader approaches carried on by the MAPPALab’ projects such as “Contemporary archaeology” and “Archaeology of undocumented contemporary migrations”, aims to involve the students in a didactic experience through the idea of the contemporary borders.

e-COOL: Ethnographies of Communities, Objects and places in Lampedusa

In the last two years, Lampedusa has been a focus for archaeological and anthropological educational experiences.
Following this path, e-COOL project aims to open a new phase where students will be protagonists proposing original research themes.

Memories of things, places and life.

The landscape transformation after the Second World War is a natural theme for those who live in mountain areas. The depopulation of villages and high-altitude sites and the abandonment of crops and woods is still partially legible today in the tangible and intangible memories with which local communities are confronted daily.

TOM - Traces of Movements (2022-2024)

The forced migrations and displacement we witness daily represent only the latest chapter in millennial history that has involved the movement of people and populations between different areas of the planet.

Re-Connect - Mending narratives and communications about migration

Following the special educational projects Archaeology of the Border, ISLAND and E-Cool, Re-Connect aims to continue to work in a transdisciplinary way, between archaeology, anthropology and audiovisual communication, on systematizing the enormous amount of documentation collected: images, videos, interviews, ethnographic observations and archaeological records.