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Excavating an Ephemeral Assemblage: An Archaeology of American Hoboes in the Gilded Age

Author(s): Justin E. Uehlein

Year: 2016

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Hobos and other transient laborers were integral to the development of industrial capital in the United States. They traversed the country filling essential temporary positions at the behest of capital interests. Yet, they frequently utilized alternative market practices in their labor arrangements, relying partially on direct trade over monetary payment. They likewise maintained intricate social networks, the material remains of which lay extant in past hobo campsites. Despite fulfilling a vital role in industrial development, hobo labor practices were concealed by policy and media outlets, which vilified hobos in order to obscure their symbolic power as indicators of class hierarchy. Drawing on a range of evidence sources on a hobo jungle located near an industrial town in Southeastern Pennsylvania, I will ask two questions: In what ways did structural control mechanisms limit hobo laboring practices, if at all? And, were hobos effective in circumventing standard capitalist labor schematics?

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Excavating an Ephemeral Assemblage: An Archaeology of American Hoboes in the Gilded Age. Justin E. Uehlein. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434784)


Temporal Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 821

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