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People and Things on the Move: Domestic Material Culture, Poverty and Mobility in Victorian London
International Journal of Historical Archaeology
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2016
Pages: 804 - 827
Source ID: shanti-sources-36976
Abstract: The development of what Mayne and Lawrence (Urban History 26: 325–48, 1999) termed Bethnographic^ approaches to studying nineteenth-century households and urban communities has gathered momentum in recent years. As such research agendas have taken hold and been applied to new contexts, so critiques, methodological developments, and new intellectual and theoretical currents, have provided opportunities to enhance and develop approaches. This article contributes to this on-going process. Drawing upon household archaeological research on Limehouse, a poor neighborhood in Victorian London, and inspired by the theoretical insights provided by the Bnew mobilities paradigm,^ it aims to place Bmobility^ as a central and enabling intellectual framework for understanding the relationships between people, place, and poverty. Poor communities in nineteenth-century cities were undeniably mobile and transient. Historians and archaeologists have often regarded this mobility as an obstacle to studying everyday life in such contexts. However, examining temporal routines and geographical movements across a variety of time frames and geographical scales, this article argues that mobility is actually key to understanding urban life and an important mechanism for interpreting the fragmented material and documentary traces left by poor households in the nineteenth-century metropolis.