Ephemeral Urban Structures and the Archaeology of Homelessness

Author(s): Courtney E Singleton

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Urban Erasures and Contested Memorial Assemblages" session, at the 2019 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

As urbanism emerged in the United States so too did contemporary forms of homelessness. Urban homelessness, a phenomenon defined by transience and ephemerality, is omnipresent within the modern urban landscape. Homelessness is an issue few politicians dare to address and a "social problem" that no one seems to be able to clearly articulate. Contemporary archaeological research on homelessness in three major US cities (Indianapolis, Washington DC, New York City) has forced a recognition of ephemeral structures and forms that are not only permanent features of the urban landscape, but also crucial to the Western urban form. This paper will tease out the relationships between erasure and iteration, ephemerality and permanence, transience and sedentism by focusing on homelessness and its relationship to Urbanism in the United States. Perhaps a re-framing of how we approach and articulate "spaces of urban erasure" will prove productive for recognizing and articulating homelessness as a social phenomenon.

Cite this Record

Ephemeral Urban Structures and the Archaeology of Homelessness. Courtney E Singleton. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, St. Charles, MO. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449261)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Ephemeral homelessness Urban

Geographic Keywords
United States of America

Temporal Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 345