Homelessness and Heritage: How Archaeology can help

Start: Oct 24, 2012 05:00 PM

Location: Room 412, Institute of Archaeology

Homelessness and Heritage: How Archaeology can help

The fourth seminar in the series on 'New Approaches to the Past: Methodological Innovations in Heritage Research' organised by the Heritage Studies Section and Centre for Museums, Heritage and Material Culture Studies will take place at the Institute on 24 October.

Rachael Kiddey (University of York) will give a seminar entitled 'Homelessness and Heritage: How Archaeology can help' and all are welcome.


Links between heritage and identity have received increased attention from archaeologists in recent years. It has also been suggested that archaeological approaches to the contemporary past can have redemptive qualities. In this talk, a recent project which used archaeology as an approach to contemporary homeless heritage is explored. The project aimed to map, document and record how homeless people in Bristol and York experience each city.

This talk examines the benefit of working collaboratively with homeless people on their heritage, identifies challenges and evaluates an excavation of a contemporary homeless site, in York, conducted with homeless people.

A subsequent public exhibition, co-curated by homeless colleagues and archaeologists, is then analysed. It is argued that heritage work can be therapeutic, can help foster a sense of community and self-worth necessary to begin recovering from isolation, trauma and addiction.

It is also argued that exploring ‘familiar’ cultures we think we know through the heritage prism can aid wider public understanding of modern cultures that many people find ‘uncomfortable’ or simply do not know how to approach, such as contemporary homelessness. The talk draws on personal testimonies from homeless colleagues, maps, photos and film.