"But We Are Not Broken": Practices of Home in San Francisco Bay Area Homeless Encampments

Author(s): Ann Danis

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Archaeologies of Immigration and Refugee Resettlement" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

In January 2018 United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing Leilani Farha visited Oakland, CA homeless encampments. Farha reportedly remarked, "every person I spoke to today has told me, 'we are human beings.’ But if you need to assert to a UN representative that you are a human, well, something is seriously wrong." The conditions of camps in California, which can range in size from a few to hundreds of tents and shelters in alleyways, underpasses, and other undesirable locations, are "systemically cruel." US law, local policy, and police practices criminalize sitting, lying, and even sharing food in public spaces, and creates challenges to even the most basic of human rights for people experiencing homelessness in the San Francisco Bay area. Decades of encampment at the Albany Bulb, however, complicate conventional assumptions about the livability and precarity of self-designed shelter and self-organizing communities. This paper discusses archaeological work documenting the 2014 eviction of the Albany Bulb, as well as the process and building of a recently completed tiny-home village in West Oakland, to argue for material attention as a method to support the humanity of people living as refugees in their own homes.

Cite this Record

"But We Are Not Broken": Practices of Home in San Francisco Bay Area Homeless Encampments. Ann Danis. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450910)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -124.189; min lat: 31.803 ; max long: -105.469; max lat: 43.58 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25944