Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, Vol 6, No 1 (2019)

Detroit 139: Archaeology and the Future-Making of a Post- Industrial City

Krysta Ryzewski
Issued Date: 26 Jun 2019


The future-making efforts currently unfolding in Detroit have direct implications on the extent to which the city’s pasts will be included in the narratives of generations to come. This essay evaluates current tensions between developers and preservation-oriented stakeholders. In doing so, it lays the groundwork for considering how archaeological initiatives and anthropological treatments of heritage might fit within revitalization efforts. Examples of grassroots, community-led projects undertaken by archaeologists and local partners demonstrate the potential for archaeology to contribute to the maintenance of community heritage and the shape of the city’s future.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £18.00 )

DOI: 10.1558/jca.33835


Bell, J. 2016. “Migrants: Keeping a Foot in Both Worlds or Losing the Ground Beneath Them? Transnationalism and Integration as Experienced in the Everyday lives of Polish Migrants in Belfast, Northern Ireland.” Social Identities 22 (1): 80–94.

Boggs, G. L. 2012. The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Brace, C. L., VI. 2016. “Nothing Phony About it in Any Way”: Archaeological Analysis of the Blue Bird Inn Jazz Club in Post-War Detroit. MA essay, Department of Anthropology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.

Bragg, A. E. 2015. “Nine Reasons to Save the Park Avenue Hotel: HDC Meeting is this Wednesday, June 10.” Preservation Detroit website. Online:

Bunge, W., 2011. Fitzgerald: Geography of a Revolution. Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation 8. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

City Form Detroit. 2015. 7.2 SQ MI: A Report on Greater Downtown Detroit (2nd edition). Detroit: City Form Detroit.

Collins, J. F. 2011. “Culture, Content and the Enclosure of Human Being: UNESCO’s ‘Intangible’ Heritage in the New Millennium.” Radical History Review 109: 121–135.

Collins, S.G. 2008. All Tomorrow’s Cultures: Anthropological Engagements with the Future. New York: Berghahn.

Copeland, N. and A. Melting. 1971. Detroit 1990: An Urban Design Concept for the Inner City. Detroit: City Plan Commission.

Cuff, D. 2009. “Design after Disaster.” Places 21 (1): 4–7.

Cunningham, J. J. and S. MacEachern. 2016. “Ethnoarchaeology as Slow Science.” World Archaeology 48 (5): 1–14.

Dawdy, S. L., 2016. Patina: A Profane Archaeology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Detroit Future City. 2012. Detroit Strategic Framework Plan. Detroit: Inland Press.

____. 2017. 139 Square Miles. Detroit: Inland Press.

Detroit Sound Conservancy. 2016. “Restaging the Stage.” Detroit Sound Conservancy [blog], 22 November. Online:

Dolan, M. 2013. “Record Bankruptcy for Detroit.” Wall Street Journal, 19 July. Online:

Early, L. 2016a. The Grande Ballroom: Detroit’s Rock ’n’ Roll Palace. Stroud, UK: The History Press.

____. 2016b. “The Grande Ballroom Inspection.” The Grande Ballroom [blog], 5 October. Online:

Eisinger, P. 2014. “Is Detroit Dead?” Journal of Urban Affairs 36 (1): 1–12.

Ethnic Layers of Detroit. 2016. Website, Wayne State University College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Online:

Felton, R. 2014. “How Mike Ilitch Scored a New Red Wings Arena.” Detroit Metro Times, 6 May. Online:

Harrison, R. and J. Schofield. 2010. After Modernity: Archaeological Approaches to the Contemporary Past. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hartigan, J., Jr. 1999. Racial Situations: Class Predicaments of Whiteness in Detroit. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

____. 2005. Odd Tribes: Toward a Cultural Analysis of White People. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Hennessy, K., N. Lyons, S. Loring, C. Arnold, M. Joe, A. Elias and J. Pokiak. 2013. “The Inuvialuit Living History Project: Digital Return as the Forging of Relationships between Institutions, People, and Data.” Museum Anthropology Review 7 (1–2): 44–73.

Holtorf, C. and A. Högberg. 2014. “Communicating with Future Generations: What Are the Benefits of Preserving for Future Generations? Nuclear Power and Beyond.” European Journal of Post-Classical Archaeologies 4: 315–330.

____. and O. Ortman. 2008. “Endangerment and Conservation Ethos in Natural and Cultural Heritage: The Case of Zoos and Archaeological Sites.” International Journal of Heritage Studies 14 (1): 74–90.

Hirsch, M. and N. K. Miller, eds. 2011. Rites of Return: Diaspora Poetics and the Politics of Memory. New York: Columbia University Press.

Jindia, S. 2016. “Tech Startups to the Rescue? How a Do-Gooding Startup Inadvertently Deepened Inequality in Detroit.” Latterly, 11 December. Online:

Kurth, J. 2015. “Detroit Pays High Price for Arson Onslaught.” Detroit News, 18 February. Online:

____. and C. MacDonald. 2015. “Volume of Abandoned Homes ‘Absolutely Terrifying’.” Detroit News, 14 May. Online:

Levitt, P. and N.G. Schiller. 2004. “Conceptualizing Simultaneity: A Transnational Social Field Perspective on Society 1.” International Migration Review 38 (3): 1002–1039.

Moloney, B. and K. Ryzewski. 2013. Report on the 2013 Speakeasy Project Excavations at Tommy’s Bar, Detroit, MI. Report on file in the Grosscup Museum of Anthropology, Wayne State University.

Moon, W. 2009. “Reclaiming the Ruin: Detroit’s Second Coming?” Places 21 (1): 36–41.

Newman, A. and S. Safransky. 2014. “Remapping the Motor City and the Politics of Austerity.” Anthropology Now 6 (3): 17–28.

Pilling A.R. 1967. “Skyscraper Archaeologist: The Urban Archaeology in Detroit.” Detroit Historical Society Bulletin 23 (8): 4–9.

Reindl, J. 2016. “$4M Price Tag for Empty House near Red Wings Arena.” Detroit Free Press, 17 February. Online:

Reed, A., 2015. “Of Routes and Roots: Paths for Understanding Diasporic Heritage.” In The Palgrave Handbook of Contemporary Heritage Research, edited by E. Waterton and S. Watson, 382–396. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Rich, A. 1972. “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision.” College English 34 (1): 18–30.

____. 2002. Arts of the Possible: Essays and Conversations. New York: W.W. Norton.

Ryzewski, K., ed. 2016. Report on the Archaeological Survey of the Grande Ballroom, Detroit. Report on file at the Grosscup Museum of Anthropology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.

____. 2017a. “Urban Archaeology in Detroit – 60 Years and Counting.” Paper presented at the 13th Midwest Historical Archaeology Conference, Indianapolis, Indiana.

____. 2017b. “Making Music in Detroit: Archaeology, Popular Music, and Post-industrial Heritage.” In Contemporary Archaeology and the City: Creativity, Ruination and Political Action, edited by L. McAtackney and K. Ryzewski, 69–90. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

____. and J. F. Cherry. 2012. “Communities and Archaeology under the Soufrière Hills Volcano on Montserrat, West Indies.” Journal of Field Archaeology 37 (4): 316–327.

____. and L. McAtackney. 2017. “Conclusion: A Future for Urban Contemporary Archaeology.” In Contemporary Archaeology and the City: Creativity, Ruination and Political Action, edited by L. McAtackney and K. Ryzewski, 262–274. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Safransky, S. 2016. “Rethinking Land Struggle in the Postindustrial City.” Antipode 49 (4): 1079–1100.

Sugrue, T. J. 2014. The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Tabb, W. K. 2015. “If Detroit is Dead, Some Things Need to be Said at the Funeral.” Journal of Urban Affairs 37 (1): 1–12.

Thomas, J. M. and H. Bekkering. 2015. Mapping Detroit: Land, Community and Shaping a City. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press.

US Census Bureau. 2015. “QuickFacts Detroit city, Michigan.” Online:

Woodward Avenue Light Rail Transit Project. 2011. Phase 1 Archaeological Literature Review, Land Use History and Disturbance Assessment. Detroit, MI: Federal Transit Administration, City of Detroit Department of Transformation, Woodward Light Rail. Online:


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email:

Privacy Policy