The Harmful Stereotypes about Homeless People

Often people misinterpret and even forget about the homeless population of America. Throughout class we have talked about how archaeology and anthropology challenge stereotypical beliefs about homeless people. In all, archaeology can explain how homeless people are more significant and normal than people think.

In MTV’s documentary, “Inocente”, the main character does not give up to the helplessness of her surroundings and is persistent to become a world-class artist. When she was a child her Dad beat her and one day he beat her so hard her mother called the cops. The next day he was deported to Mexico. According to Inocente, this is when her homeless journey started.

It is not her fault that she is homeless and like many homeless people, she refuses to let society define her. In this case, archaeology can be used to examine Inocente’s experiences in order to realize how much she needs to move around and how she’s able to survive. The documentary reveals that Inocente’s dream to become an influential painter motivates her to live and migrate from homeless shelter to homeless.

Inocente expressing her passion for art by painting this materpiece called “Masters of Disguise”

The one thing that puzzles me is why do many Americans assume that homeless people don’t have any talent or intuition. In the documentary this wasn’t directly mentioned but Inocente’s story made me wonder why do many people believe that homeless people are worthless and loony. These certain stereotypes help destroy the identities of homeless people like Inocente.

An organization called Rethink Homelessness strives to challenge these negative stereotypes about homeless people just like the MTV documentary does. The campaign is centered on a documentary, which is about homeless people living in Florida. The campaign’s film emphasizes how homeless people can be very talented and unique. The film doesn’t tell the story of how these homeless people are homeless but instead shows the homeless people holding cardboard signs with facts written about themselves. The campaign uses these facts to destroy stereotypes that note homeless people as forlorn and proves that these people are talented and apt. Organizations like Rethink Homelessness and MTV are changing common misconceptions about homeless people and are further humanizing their identety in society (they are normal people!). So next time when you see the local hobo walking from street to street looking for shelter, don’t just assume that he or she is hopeless and nutty.

Homeless man who you used to play in the NFL

Homeless man who you used to play in the NFL

Just one of many young college graduates who are homeless

Just one of many young college graduates who are homeless


The documentary: “Inocente”

Further Reading:


Video: “Cardboard Stories | Homeless in Orlando”


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What Exactly is Punk Archaeology and is it Worthwhile?

I do think that Punk Archaeology does succeed in challenging established modes of thought. First, let’s define Punk Archaeology since it’s a very different way of studying archaeology. It is a technique that urges one to approach the familiar understandings of archaeology in new/unfamiliar ways. This type of archaeology supports conventional archaeology, which provides a distance for understanding objects from the past, but in most cases these objects are already unfamiliar to the modern viewer. Maybe I need to emphasize how punk archaeology makes the familiar and everyday unfamiliar. Punk archaeology began between archaeologists Kostis Kourelis and Bill Caraher who while studying archaeology listened to punk rock music. Punk Archaeology follows certain elements of punk philosophy through the study of archaeology. Archaeologists demolish the very object that they seek to study, and Punk Archaeology grasps chaos as a creative force. Its spontaneity gives off a creative destruction of the objects they are seeking to study.

The archaeologists who dug up the Atari game in the trash dump in New Mexico validated the theory of Punk Archaeologists is an established mode of thought. Filmmakers were also part of the crew of archeologists. Their initial response was motivated by interest in archaeology science and video game history. These punk archaeologists reversed the value of a culture that valued the past and things that are old and unique for searching for games that were not rare, but ordinary. The most interesting thing about this was that the scientists dug up the old Atari game, which represented a look at corporate history and the “end-of-lifecycle” for products. Thus their work helped people better understand Atari’s corporate decision making and how they tried to advertise the game. This dig answered the question where old, returned or overproduced products went to die out. Did they just vanish? Punk Archaeology showed where these old products went. Thirty years later, these old video games became material record of the past. The most favored game was E.T. The Extra -Terrestrial, and E.T. finally came home. The archeologists were part of turning these old games into museum artifacts from target of consumer wishes. The archaeologists also wanted to see the concrete and the line between product and trash as well as the games. Atari had concealed the unsold and/or undesirable games under concrete.


Film director Zak Penn holds up Atari E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial game at the dumpsite

After the media blitz, the archaeologists were overlooked in the papers and the news focused more on the filmmakers who documented it. The filmmakers knew that the excavation gave the archeologists, anthropologists and historians a chance to look into a modern landfill while digging up the recent past, while people responded to this modern find. Even though some believe they were overlooked, I believe this excavation showed that Punk Archaeology did succeed in challenging established modes of thought to help people better understand our culture.

Up close photo of game cover

Up close photo of game cover



Image URL/further reading:

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What Exactly Can Knapping Tell Us?

Alaina Wilson, the speaker in the Villard room, talked about the similarities of Native American stoned tools from New York and Alaska. She compared different stoned tools and analyzed their use for the different regions. What really surprised me was that she never mentioned if the tools were made by indirect or direct percussion methods. In my opinion, this information  would have been useful in determining what type of culture the knappers lived in. What also surprised me was the fact that the speaker only talked about technological similarities of the two societies.

In Pierre M. Desrosiers’s book, The Emergence of Pressure Blade Making: From Origin to Modern Experimentation, it’s evident that knapping techniques reveal information about preexisting cultures in Central Asia. Specifically, pressure knapping was present in Central Asia during the beginning of the Holocene. Desrosiers notes that depending on the culture, tools were either made using a short crutch or a long crutch. According to Desrosiers, Central Asian civilizations adopted the technique through cultural contact with the Far East and from migration of bearers of the technique from Siberia, Mongolia, Xinjiang. From this information, different methods of knapping can describe the influencing factors of cultures and can demonstrate how cultures evolve through technological advances. Thus I believe that knapping techniques can always describe technological and cultural traits of a society.

Picture of a man using a short crutch knapping tool

Picture of a man using a short crutch knapping tool (Pressure Knapping)

What I did learn from Alaina was that shock waves are sent through the stone during the process of knapping. Furthermore, Professor Lucy Johnson flint-knapping demonstration in class helped me visualize how flakes are produced. I noticed when the angle of contact was just slightly off, her stone would not form the way she wanted it to. Professor Johnson also enlightened the class that flake debris can help archaeologists reenact the knapping done and can indicate what type of tool was being made.

The analyzing of flake debris helped the archaeologist in the study compare the types of tools that were produced. After watching Professor Johnson knap and listening to Alaina, I was curious about the concept of flake debris sizes created from flint-knapping. I found out that there’s a relationship between the weight of crafted tools and the flake debris generated from knapping. According to archaeologist Michael Shott, flake debris can help determine original tool weight and can show the depletion of the original tool.

In all, Alaina Wilson’s hypothesis was proven by the discovery of similar weight distribution of the flakes from both sites, the fact that the stones went through feather termination, and the artifacts from both of the sites showed similarities in the late stages of the knapping process.


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Further Reading:


Short Crutch Demonstration (Pressure Knapping): (Flake removed at 3:00)


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