The Archaeology of Urban Blight

Author(s): Kaeleigh Herstad

Year: 2016


This presentation explores the reconfiguration of urban landscapes in postindustrial cities by discussing how materials removed from blighted neighborhoods in Detroit, Michigan, and Cleveland, Ohio, are reused and resold as tangible heritage (in the form of furniture or personal accessories), often in different parts of the same city. Mapping the transfer and reuse of building materials reveals patterns of urban change and (re)development over time and provides insight into regional understandings of how blight and its removal figure into narratives about urban "regeneration."

Using data from ethnographic interviews and analysis of marketing and media coverage, I argue that the process of reclamation transforms urban blight from something threatening and pathologized—an aggressive "cancer" that can take over an entire city—to something that residents can wear and incorporate (in a contained, sanitized way) into their homes and/or wardrobes.

Cite this Record

The Archaeology of Urban Blight. Kaeleigh Herstad. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434501)


Temporal Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 594