Sleeping Rough


  • Martin Gruber University of Bremen
  • Jochen Becker



homelessness, homeless, sleeping rough, urban anthropology, urban space, Hamburg, social exclusion


"Sleeping Rough" was shot during the summer of 2001 among a group of homeless men and women in the city centre of Hamburg after six months of ethnographic fieldwork. While the homeless are often represented as outcasts of society, this film shows critical and self-reflexive people who master their lives in public with an undefeated spirit. The cohesion of the group provides the matrix through which individuals in varying stages of liminality can find solace and support.

The camera offers a privileged view of daily routines and work as well as leisure time which is spent socialising in a public square equipped with a container for luggage. Intimately and sometimes with disenchanted frankness the protagonists reflect on the circumstances of their situation, between romance and tragedy, past disappointments and future ambition.

More than 20 years after the production of the film, the situation of homeless people in Germany has not improved. The number of rough sleepers in Hamburg has increased from roughly 1000 in 2009 to almost 2000 in 2018. The city centre of Hamburg is still a highly contested space.




How to Cite

Gruber, M., & Becker, J. (2022). Sleeping Rough. Journal of Anthropological Films, 6(02).