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Archaeology of Improvement in Rural Massachusetts : Landscapes of Profit and Betterment at the Dawn of
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?The English speaking world transformed its rural landscapes dramatically in the 18th century as part of a transition to industrial capitalism. This dynamic rural world was frequently understood, by commentators at the time, and by subsequent scholars, as being either backward and in need of improvement through rationalization of social and economic life, or nostalgically as a romanticized place of renewal. The landscapes and artifacts of this transformation have been the traditional subjects of archaeological inquiry.
This book will examine one location of Improvement as a case study by probing the materiality of agricultural Improvement in Massachusetts. The Improvement movement emerged in the early Republican period of the United States, at a time of great social instability, and served to ameliorate growing tensions between urban and rural socioeconomic life through a rationalization of space. Alongside this modernization, Improvement also served to reshape rural landscapes in keeping with the particular social and economic processes of global capitalism. Utilizing both archaeological and documentary data, the landscapes of Improvement are examined as materializations of these broader social processes.