Lessons from the Bakken

For the last few weeks, I’ve been puttering about a little contribution to a Journal of Contemporary Archaeology Forum on undocumented migrants based on our work in the Bakken.

Here’s the abstract for the paper:

This article summarizes the recent work of the North Dakota Man Camp Project to understand the largely undocumented migrants arriving in the Bakken Oil Patch for work. It argues that efforts to document short-term labor in the Bakken exposes particular challenges facing the archaeology of the modern world ranging from the ephemerality of short-term settlements to the hyper-abundance of modern objects. The use of photography, video, interviews, and descriptions produced an abundant archive of archaeological ephemera that in some ways parallels the modern character of temporary workforce housing.  The final section of this article offers some perspectives on how work in the Bakken oil patch can inform policy, our understanding of material culture in the modern world, and the role of the discipline in forming a shared narrative.

And here’s the most recent version of this paper (with photos!):

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