This work investigates the material culture of public temperatures in New York City. Numbers like temperature, while ubiquitous and indispensable to capitalized social relations, are often hidden away within urban infrastructures evading attention. This Archaeology of Temperature brings such numbers to light, interrogating how we construct them and how they construct us.
Building on discussions in contemporary archaeology this book challenges the border between material and discursive culture, advocating for a novel conception of capitalism’s artifacts. The artifacts examined within (temperatures) are instantaneous electric pulses, algorithmic outputs, and momentary fluctuations in mercury. The artifacts of the capitalized never sit still, operating at subatomic and solar scales. Temperatures, as numerical materials precariously straddling the colonially constructed nature-culture divide, exemplify the abstraction necessary to pursue the perpetually accelerating asymmetrical growth of wealth—a pursuit that engenders multiple environmental and economic calamities.
An Archaeology of Temperature innovatively reimagines theory and method within contemporary archaeology. Equally, in plumbing the depths of temperature, this book offers indispensable contributions to science studies, urban geography, semiotics, the philosophy of materiality, the history of thermodynamics, heterodox economics, performative scholarship, and queer ecocriticism.