Graduate Colloquium:"People out of Place or a Home for the Homeless?"

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 9:30am
Meyerson Hall, room G-12

Dr. Andrew Deener, a visiting scholar in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Health and Society program, will be presenting his work entitled, "People out of Place or a Home for the Homeless?" Dr. Philippe Bourgois, the Richard Perry University Professor of Anthropology and Family and Community Medicine, Departments of Anthropology and Family Medicine and Community Practice, will serve as the discussant.  

Breakfast will be served.  

We look forward to seeing you there!

People out of Place or a Home for the Homeless?

During the three decades following World War II, the boundary between housed and homeless was commonly blurred in Venice, a Los Angeles coastal community. Housed residents – mostly working class and poor renters – tolerated and even took part in Venice’s ephemeral culture that attracted beatniks, hippies, and artists. However, since the late 70s, five significant changes have redefined the homeless situation: 1) the number and types of people living on the streets has increased; 2) wealthy and influential non-profit social service agencies have prospered; 3) the Venice Boardwalk has become one of the most popular public attractions in Los Angeles, generating a range of informal survival opportunities for the most destitute; 4) the influx of middle, upper-middle, and upper class residents has distanced Venice’s residential population from its historic bohemian counterculture; and 5) LAPD strategies have increasingly incorporated “nuisance abatement.” Due to the failure of federal, state, and city governments to create sustainable solutions for curbing chronic homelessness, the daily burden has become localized in specific contexts. LAPD officers and non-profit agencies have been thrust into a role of managing a recurring problem, which they have neither the resources nor the skills to resolve and the homeless and the housed are increasingly positioned against one another. Housed residents, siding with law enforcement agencies, employ symbolic power to officially stigmatize the homeless as "people out of place." In contrast, homeless men and women develop attachments to services, resources, neighborhood blocks, street corners, alleys, and parks, trying to transcend their outsider status. This paper addresses how the contradiction between the stigmatization of the homeless on one hand, and the strengthening of homeless connections on the other, has become central to everyday life in Venice, California.