An Archaeology of Illegal Garbage Dumping in the Twenty-First Century

Author(s): Anthony Graesch; Corbin Maynard

Year: 2017


A boon to the archaeological study of American lifeways in the past and present, the massive assemblages of discarded objects at landfills poignantly speak to an era of unrivaled consumption and waste. Aggregated through municipally sanctioned collection services, these assemblages, however, are rarely representative of the full range of household-level discard behaviors. Illegal dump sites, in contrast, comprise assemblages that cannot be easily or quickly discarded through regular garbage collection utilities. As such, illegal dump sites implicate economies of garbage that are otherwise not evident or, at best, poorly represented at municipal landfills. In this poster, we present data generated with the application of archaeological methods to the study of recent illegal garbage dump sites in southeastern Connecticut. We argue these sites represent discard decisions that are undergirded by ideologies of elusion and, sometimes, subversion. Some dump sites afford analyses of small social group behavior, such as household life cycling. Others permit the study of individual histories and modern processes of loss and "accidental" deposition. All provide opportunity to evaluate the ways that broader structures shape expressions of nonconformity and the ways that nonconformity is materialized in the archaeological record.

Cite this Record

An Archaeology of Illegal Garbage Dumping in the Twenty-First Century. Anthony Graesch, Corbin Maynard. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430518)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17655