Private Struggles in Public Spaces

Documenting COVID-19 Material Culture and Landscapes




archaeology, anthropology, COVID-19, ethics, heritage, landscape, materiality, private, public art


The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly every facet of our world, including some of the most fundamental forms of human behavior and our conception of the social. Everyday activities now pose a risk to individuals and to society as a whole. This radical shift in how we live has produced a wide array of material responses across the globe. This photo essay seeks to open up dialogue and ask questions about the numerous forms of COVID-19 materiality and altered landscapes that the authors have chronicled, witnessed, documented and cataloged in their communities, using archaeological and ethnographic methods. This materiality includes chalk art, graffiti, painted rocks and signage placed in both public and private spaces within the project authors’ communities. In framing our questions, we draw upon theoretical frameworks in the fields of cultural trauma studies, cultural anthropology and contemporary archaeology.


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Author Biographies

Dante Angelo, Universidad de Tarapacá

Dante Angelo is an Assistant Professor at the Universidad de Tarapacá. His research interests are focused on theoretical and contemporary archaeology, modernity and the politics intersecting the discipline. 

Kelly M. Britt, City University of New York

Kelly M. Britt is an Assistant Professor of Urban Archaeology at Brooklyn College focusing on community-based historical and contemporary archaeology of urban spaces. Her research interests are in heritage and placemaking, and in exploring the intersection of activism and materiality.

Margaret Lou Brown, Duke University, NC

Margaret Lou Brown is a cultural anthropologist and Senior Research Scholar with Duke University’s Forum for Scholars and Publics. Her work centers public engagement and community building through multi-disciplinary research in the humanities, arts and social sciences, particularly around the creation and interpretation of material culture.

Stacey L. Camp, Michigan State University

Stacey Camp is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Campus Archaeology Program at Michigan State University. Her work concerns the archaeology of migrant and diasporic communities in the Western United States.


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How to Cite

Angelo, D., Britt, K., Brown, M. L., & Camp, S. L. (2021). Private Struggles in Public Spaces: Documenting COVID-19 Material Culture and Landscapes. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, 8(1), 154–184.



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