The Occupy Movement, Outdoor Politics, and the History of American Camping

Beyond an urban oddity, the Occupy Movement camps that sprung up across the nation in the fall of 2011 referenced a longer history of camping and sleeping outside in American history, from Civil War veterans, national park vacationers, and homeless transients.

"By camping out in public places, the activists wanted to draw attention to the issues of political marginalization and rising wealth inequality.," says Phoebe S.K. Young, associate professor of history at the University of Colorado

Young presents "The Occupy Movement, Outdoor Politics, and the History of American Camping" in a special lecture on Friday, March 14, noon – 2 p.m. in Salazar 2025. The event is hosted by the History, Anthropology Departments and the School of Social Sciences.

"Although the tent appeared simultaneously obvious, audacious, and natural, the tent is key to understanding the movement’s resonance in American political culture," she says.

Her talk will suggest how the tent evoked ways in which nature and outdoors have served historically as critical space for negotiating public belonging and national identity. It is part of her new project Sleeping Outside: The Public Nature of Camping in America, under contract with Oxford University Press.

Young is the author of California Vieja: Culture and Memory in a Modern American Place.