Motel Movement

Somehow the decaying neon motel sign, seen from the road while traveling across the United States, bears the weight of decades of expectations bound up in glimpsed histories of hope and hurt- with some debauchery thrown in. The signs are not only icons of past age, they are shared artifacts of people who have passed through, some for a night and some who have made these places their homes for a week, a month, a year. Today, so many of the motels are homes to families who have made their way from the other side of the world to the very center of the US to buy and manage them. Conversations with these families at the front desk- about Hinduism vs. Buddhism or the representation of Ganesh hanging behind the counter or how their son has gone to India and will return with his wife to manage another motel down the street- add a rich layer to the human story encapsulated in the aging signs. They serve as a reminder that people, and our studies of people, are not static- and capturing moments in their movement to build a whole is much of what anthropology is all about. These photos, taken with a cellphone camera from the car after a quick application of the brakes, intend to capture and celebrate this movement- of space, of time and, most importantly, of people.

Kristina Baines is our resident cool anthropologist. She’s been formally trained in applied, sociocultural, ecological and medical anthropology at Florida Atlantic University (BA, MA), the University of Oxford (MSc) and the University of South Florida (PhD). She has a strong interest in corn, how what we do in our environment makes us well, and using innovative methods to make anthropology relevant and accessible to a wide audience. You can find out more about how these interests translate into projects and pursuits by perusing the rest of our site, or you can contact her directly at

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