Upon HOMInG seminar 34_19, during the Trento School in Ethnography (September 2019), archeologist Rachael Kiddey (University of Oxford) gave a fascinating lecture out of her fieldwork experience with homeless and refugee people in “contemporary archeology”. See a summary of Rachael’s presentation below.
Archaeology is the study of material culture and its relationship with people, past and present. Archaeological data – landscapes, buildings, objects – are not passive things confined to particular periods of history but multi-temporal, politically active constituents of the present, and one way to access these is, of course, through ethnography. This lecture revisits one Contemporary Archaeology project that involved undertaking urban ethnographies. It explains the approaches taken and identifies a number of associated challenges and opportunities.
At the core of the lecture, the Homeless Heritage project (2009-2013) is discussed. It was a collaborative public archaeology project that sought to document contemporary homelessness from the perspective of homeless people in two British cities, Bristol and York. Through close examination of the ethnographic (and related, established archaeological) methodologies that were employed, the lecture highlights how relatively simple (and widely accessible) approaches may be useful in recording the everyday experiences of marginalised social groups.