Opening up the black boxes: Media archaeology, 'anarchaeology' and media materiality

Goddard, M N. 2015. Opening up the black boxes: Media archaeology, 'anarchaeology' and media materiality. New Media & Society, 17(11), pp. 1761-1776. ISSN 1461-4448 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article examines the emergent field of media archaeology as offering a materialist approach to new media and specifically the Internet, constituting a ‘travelling discipline’ or ‘indiscipline’ rather than a new disciplinary paradigm. Following the lead of Siegfried Zielinski, it provides less an archaeology than an ‘anarchaeology’ of media archaeology, understanding this term in political as well as methodological terms. To do so, it charts a trajectory through some of the sources of media archaeology and its key theoretical articulations in the work of Zielinski and Friedrich Kittler up to its more recent articulations in the work of Jussi Parikka and Wolfgang Ernst. It uses this theoretical trajectory to illuminate some of the key problematics of media archaeology, in terms of both its practical application as a form of ‘theoretical circuit breaking’ and its most imaginative speculations as not only a material but even a geological approach to media as evident in Parikka’s most recent work, by way of such phenomena as the ‘vernacular Web’ and the problematics of e-waste. Throughout, it pays close attention to the value of media archaeology as a set of methods for new media research in relation to more established methodologies in media studies ranging from medium histories to cultural studies. In particular, it argues for articulating media archaeological approaches with media ecological ones, in order to bring out more clearly both the political stakes of the field and its potential contribution to studies of digital media.

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Anarchaeology, e-waste, Friedrich Kittler, Jussi Parikka, media archaeology, media ecology, Siegfried Zielinski, vernacular Web, Wolfgang Ernst, Zombie Media

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


28 April 2014Published Online
December 2015Published

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Date Deposited:

11 Nov 2022 14:34

Last Modified:

11 Nov 2022 14:34

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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