This article aims to analyse some of the issues and recent evolutions in the definition and theorisation of industrial archaeology. The chronological boundaries of the field are first of all analysed to demonstrate that it is difficult to restrict the scope of industrial archaeology to the Industrial Revolution. The second aim of this paper is to examine the thematic boundaries of industrial archaeology using recent publications in historical archaeology. The importance of a multidisciplinary approach to the study of industrial archaeology using a variety of subjects, approaches and methods is stressed. The final aim of this paper is to define industrial archaeology as cultural anthropology, concerned with studying and explaining people at work in different settings. These ideas are illustrated using a number of case studies from Europe and Africa.