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IUPUI Students to Sponsor Exhibit, Forum Exploring Homelessness

Exhibit Installation
Exhibit Installation


December 1, 2011

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What does it mean to be homeless in Indianapolis? How do homeless people identify their cultural heritage?

An examination of these and other questions are the focus of a special Central Library exhibit and community forum organized by students in an IUPUI anthropology and museum studies class taught by Professors Larry Zimmerman and Elizabeth Kryder-Reid. The forum will follow the exhibit’s opening day event and features Zimmerman, two IUPUI anthropology graduates, and a British archaeologist who uses archaeology to study homelessness.

The “What Does Homelessness Look Like?” exhibit begins Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011, and continues through Friday, Jan. 27, 2012, at Central Library, 40 E. St. Clair St.

Sponsored by the Issues in Cultural Heritage class taught by IUPUI Professors Larry Zimmerman and Elizabeth Kryder-Reid, the library exhibit will highlight the challenges of homelessness in Indianapolis and bear witness to the stories of homeless people through a display of material objects and other archeological data. Visitors will discover unexpected realities of homeless life, gain insight into homeless people’s perspectives about relief efforts, and learn what people can do to help.

“Library patrons can learn what the archaeology of homelessness reveals about the strategies homeless people use to live without permanent shelter and about their cultural heritage,” Professor Kryder-Reid said. “In particular, the exhibit demonstrates the gap between some services to the homeless and the realities of “living rough” and also how, like anyone, they make meaning and memories through their possessions and their personal spaces.”

An opening event for the exhibit will be held at Central Library at 5:30 p.m., on Dec. 6 on the sixth floor of the Central Library.

Following the exhibit opening, the public forum entitled “The Archeology of Homelessness” will take place at 6:30 p.m. in Central Library’s Clowes Auditorium. The forum will address issues related to using archaeology to study homelessness in Indianapolis and in Bristol and York in England. It will feature a presentation on why archeologists study homeless material culture, a dialogue on relief efforts and civic policies, and an open discussion on homeless life.

Forum presenters include: Rachael Kiddey, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Archeology, University of York (U.K.); Courtney Singleton, currently a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland; and Jessica Welch, a 2008 IUPUI graduate who collaborated with Zimmerman on research and experienced homelessness. Zimmerman, professor of anthropology and museum studies, School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, will moderate a discussion in which audience members can participate.

The forum and exhibit are being sponsored by the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, and the Department of Anthropology and Museum Studies Program, both part of the liberal arts school.

Call 317-275-4099 for more information about this free Central Library program.


Updated: Dec. 22, 2011

Note: Jon Barnes, communications specialist, The Indianapolis Public Library, contributed to this article.