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‘Fortuitous and wasteful mitigations . . .’


In this fin de siècle moment – or is it closer to a mood of Depression? – the Keynesian idea of expanded government spending is much in vogue. We have been here before. As Shannon Lee Dawdy notes, part of Roosevelt's New Deal in the USA was the famous Civilian Conservation Corps, who performed much archaeology and related work (Maher 2008; Paige 1985). It seems particularly appropriate, then, to repeat a famous quote of Keynes: after all, archaeology comes surprisingly close to that much-derided Keynesian remedy. It was in his General theory of employment, interest and money that he wrote, ‘“To dig holes in the ground,” paid for out of savings, will increase, not only employment, but the real national dividend of useful goods and services’ (Keynes 1936, 220). What is less often quoted, though, is the subsequent comment: ‘It is not reasonable, however, that a sensible community should be content to remain dependent on such fortuitous and often wasteful mitigations’.

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Archaeological Dialogues
  • ISSN: 1380-2038
  • EISSN: 1478-2294
  • URL: /core/journals/archaeological-dialogues
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