This project is a visual ethnography photographic study of homeless camps in the Front Range urban corridor of Colorado from an archaeological perspective. It primarily focuses on the areas immediately surrounding Denver between 2015 and 2018. I first encountered homeless camps during archaeological surveys of urban areas in the late 1990s. For the first two years of the project, I focused my efforts on the material culture of abandoned camps. As I explored the abandoned camps, I also began to meet a number of homeless individuals and asked them if they would like to be photographed for this project and tell me their stories. Since photography has been my primary means of documentation, I have sought to portray these people and places in a combined visual ethnography and artist fashion. As an archaeologist and anthropologist, I’m interested in what these sites can tell us about human behavior and the human condition. Some of the primary themes I’ve identified include geographic location, personal mobility, camp physical characteristics, risk factors, and community. The project is structured around these themes. Homelessness is a serious social issue, particularly in times of great economic disparity between the rich and the poor. Additionally, homelessness does not discriminate, it can happen to anyone, and it affects everyone. It does not recognize sex, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, etc. Before formally starting to document the camps, I researched ethics guidelines from the American Anthropological Association and recalled my basic ethnographic training. I also met with staff from the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless to get advice on protocol. I carefully considered how to conduct my project in a respectful and sensitive fashion, and even more with whether or not to share it in a fully public format.
As a means of sharing the stories from the sites I have visited and the people who I have met, I've created a Facebook Community page. Please click on the link below to visit.
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