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A visitor looking at an exhibit of the field work from Anthropologist Philippe Bourgois and photographer-ethnographer Jeff Schonberg

Homelessness is complex enough, yet made more difficult to understand by a variety of periphery issues that often, but certainly not always, find involvement, like addiction and poverty and education.

Two community forums held next week in University City, Philadelphia will focus on just that intersection, associated with the current Penn Museum exhibit: Righteous Dopefiend: Homelessness, Addiction and Poverty in Urban America. The forums bring to a close the exhibit’s Philadelphia run, which began Dec. 4.

Below, watch a video overview of the exhibit and read more about the location and forums.

Anthropologist Philippe Bourgois and photographer-ethnographer Jeff Schonberg document the daily lives of homeless drug users, drawing upon more than a decade of fieldwork they conducted among a community of heroin injectors and crack smokers who survive on the streets of San Francisco’s former industrial neighborhoods. About 40 black and white photographs are interwoven with edited transcriptions of tape recorded conversations, fieldwork notes, and critical analysis to explore the intimate experience of homelessness and addiction. Revealing the social survival mechanisms and perspectives of this marginalized “community of addicted bodies,” the exhibition also sheds light on the often unintended consequences of public policies that can exacerbate the suffering faced by street-based drug users in America.

Community Forums – April and May 2010

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Penn Museum has sent more than 400 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. We are located at 3260 South Street (across from Franklin Field), Philadelphia, PA 19104. For general information call (215) 898-4000.

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