Materializing Inequality: The Archaeology of Tourism Laborers in Turn-of-the-Century Los Angeles

  • Stacey Lynn CampEmail author


This article traces the historical marginalization of tourism workers in Southern California, a region made popular in the late 1800s for its numerous leisurely activities. Workers employed in Southern California’s hotel industry continue to face discrimination, low wages, and dangerous and environmentally hazardous work conditions, policies that originated during the development of the region’s tourism industry. Using California’s most popular tourist site from 1893 to 1936, Mount Lowe Resort and Railway, as a case study, this article examines the historical spatial, ideological, and legal factors that have contributed to the contemporary stratification of Los Angeles’ hotel laborers. It concludes with an emphasis on how archaeological and archival research can be used to help modern day tourism laborers gain the attention and benefits they so direly deserve.


Tourism Resort Labor Inequality 



The author wishes to thank her dissertation committee (Dr. Barbara Voss, Dr. Ian Hodder, Dr. Paulla Ebron, and Dr. Lynn Meskell) for providing guidance and support throughout the Mount Lowe Archaeology Project. Paul Mullins, Bryn Williams, an anonymous IJHA reviewer, and the journal editors, Lynda Carroll and Maria O’Donovan, provided useful feedback on earlier versions of this article. Thanks are especially owed to the local historians and historical societies who have supported the Mount Lowe Archaeology Project, most notably Brian Marcroft, John Harrigan, Paul Ayers, Michele Zack, Altadena Historical Society, and the Scenic Mount Lowe Railway Historical Committee. The research detailed in this article was funded by a Visiting Scholar Fellowship from the Autry National Center for the Study of the American West, two Pre-Dissertation Mellon Summer Field Grants, a Stanford University School of Humanities and Social Sciences Graduate Research Opportunities Grant, a grant from the Historical Society of Southern California, and numerous grants awarded between 2003 and 2009 from Stanford University’s Archaeology Center and Department of Anthropology.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyUniversity of IdahoMoscowUSA

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