Publication Date

Spring 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Charlotte Sunseri

Subject Areas



In this thesis, I present multidisciplinary research applicable to deceased unhoused individuals in urban San José, California. I present the problem of homelessness through a “hybrid collectif,” a conceptual framework that encompasses the factors that drive homelessness in life and death. I use taphonomic methodology to examine the problem of homelessness in this urban region by experimentation with porcine carcasses in simulated death scenarios. I utilize total body score (TBS), accumulated degree days (ADD), and predictive entomological species identification to examine decomposition trends. I also introduce “human survival scavenging” as an agent of decomposition, provide an account of ecological succession in this environment, and present a taphonomic index compatible in real-world death investigation of unhoused decedents. Through this report, I encourage researchers to consider the representation of impoverished communities in dense urban geographies and to recognize the value in doing so when conducting multidisciplinary decomposition studies.