"Flesh Wounds": Migrant Injuries and the Archaeological Traces of Pain


While crossing the desert clandestinely, migrants routinely experience a broad range of physical injuries including dehydration, hyperthermia, exhaustion, cuts, bruises, and blisters, all of which are conceptualized by federal law enforcement to act as forms of deterrence.  Drawing on a combination of interviews with migrants and experimental research on hiking injuries, we highlight the many ways that the desert hurts people and the various coping strategies that border crossers have developed. We then compare these documented physical injuries with the archaeological record to better understand what phenomenological elements of this social process leave material traces. We posit that this combination of methodological approaches can provide new insight into the migration process that is often missing from migrant narratives and push the boundaries of what studies of use-wear can tell about both contemporary and historic forms of pain and suffering that often become embedded in the archaeological record.   

Cite this Record

"Flesh Wounds": Migrant Injuries and the Archaeological Traces of Pain. Olivia P. Waterhouse, Polina Hristova, Andrea Dantus, Marcela Dorfsman-Hopkin, Jason De León. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Seattle, Washington. 2015 ( tDAR id: 433792)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 94