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Apparel in Peril: An archaeological study of how clothing becomes embedded with human suffering

Author(s): Anna Antoniou ; Jason De León

Year: 2015

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 The Undocumented Migration Project has recovered over 4,000 articles of clothing once worn by migrants crossing the Mexico­Arizona border. This often darkly colored apparel is intended to help people furtively move across the desert and avoid detection by Border Patrol. When recovered archaeologically, this clothing is often torn, faded, and stained with bodily fluids that reflect different forms of physical pain experienced en route. Here we employ the concept of "use­wear" (i.e. modifications made to objects as a result of usage) to evince the types of routinized suffering that people undergo throughout the various stages of migration. We argue that both the specific forms of human suffering experienced by border crossers (e.g., extreme dehydration) caused by the harsh desert environment and people’s creative responses to pain are embedded in the archaeological record and offer unique insight into the social process of migration that may be difficult to get at ethnographically. 

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Apparel in Peril: An archaeological study of how clothing becomes embedded with human suffering. Anna Antoniou, Jason De León. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Seattle, Washington. 2015 ( tDAR id: 433798)


Temporal Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 162

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America