The North Dakota Man Camp Project: The Archaeology of Home in the Bakken Oil Fields

William R. Caraher, Bret Weber, Kostis Kourelis, Richard Rothaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Over the past three years (2012–2015), the North Dakota Man Camp Project has documented the archaeology of home in over 50 contemporary, short-term, workforce-housing sites in the Bakken oil patch in western North Dakota. This article integrates recent scholarship in global urbanism, archaeology of the contemporary past, and domesticity to argue that the expansion of temporary-workforce housing in the Bakken reflects a global periphery that lacks infrastructure or capital to respond rapidly to the pressures of an increasingly fluid movement of global capital and labor. The position of the Bakken produced short-term housing strategies that embrace both traditions of American domesticity and global trends in informal urbanism. A series of practical acts of architectural intervention straddle the line between the ideals of fixity characteristic of the American suburb and the mobility of recreational vehicles. The archaeological and architectural analysis of the Bakken man camps documents new forms of informal housing and offers a glimpse of the city yet to come.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-287
Number of pages21
JournalHistorical Archaeology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • North American archaeology
  • North Dakota
  • archaeology of the contemporary world
  • camps
  • extractive industries
  • oil
  • temporary settlement


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