PhD student from University of Maryland visiting CCHS
Meet our visiting PhD student from University of Maryland! Camille Westmont is visiting the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies for nine months to strengthen her understanding of critical heritage theory.
What is your background?
– I am from Arizona but I have lived in Washington, D.C. for the past five years. I grew up visiting the Navajo Indian Reservation in northern Arizona and those experiences made me want to be an archaeologist when I grew up. I decided to go to the University of Kentucky for my undergraduate degree. While in Kentucky, I became very interested in coal mining culture and life in the Appalachian mountains (a mountain range that extends from Georgia to Maine). For graduate school, I chose to attend the University of Mar- yland, which runs an archaeology project investigating life in coal mining company towns in Pennsylvania (part of the Appalachian range). I have earned my Masters in Applied Anthropology and Masters in Historic Preservation since starting graduate school in 2013. In the US, I live in DC with my dog, Eckley.
Tell me about your thesis!
– My thesis is focusing on how the company town environment shaped workers’ identities. I use an intersectional approach to understand how workers and their families were shaped into productive subjects by the built environment and how they expressed their new identities (as Americans, as coal miners, as working class, ect) through material culture. Finally, I am interested in the ways that this history is used by the local community today as heritage that informs their modern identity. Because underground coal mining in this area of Pennsylvania ended in the 1960s and the last people who worked in those mines are dying, the ways that people relate to their coal mining heritage on a community level is continuing to evolve.
What are you hoping to take from your time here?
– While I am at the Center for Critical Heritage Studies, I hope to strengthen my understanding of critical heritage theory and bolster the part of my thesis that focuses on the role of coal mining heritage in the region today. I have already met several wonderful scholars here at the University and I look forward to meeting more and hearing about the fascinating projects everyone is working on!