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Life on the fence line. Early 20th-century life in Ross Acreage

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 May 2020

Haeden Stewart*
Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA
Kendra Jungkind
Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
Robert Losey
Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada


Despite widespread attention to the recent past as an archaeological topic, few archaeologists have attended to the particular social and ecological stakes of one of the most defining material features of contemporary life: the long-term effects of toxic industrial waste. Identifying the present era as the high Capitalocene, this article highlights the contemporary as a period caught between the boom-and-bust cycles of capitalist production and the persistence of industrial waste. Drawing on an archaeological case study from Edmonton, Alberta, we outline how the working-class shanty town community of Ross Acreage (occupied 1900–1950) was formed in relation to the industrial waste that suffused its landscape. Drawing on data from both archaeological excavation and environmental testing, this article argues that the community of Ross Acreage was defined materially by its long-term relationship with industrial waste, what we term a ‘fence-line community’.

© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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