session 9 (dystopia 3: modern ruins, 3/27)

Blog: Ruin Memories


  • Edensor, T. 2005. Chapters 1, 4, 5, 6. Industrial Ruins. Space, Aesthetics and Materiality. New York.
  • Dawdy, Shannon L. 2010. Clockpunk anthropology and the ruins of modernity. Current Anthropology 51(6):761–93.
  • Masco, Joseph. 2008. “Survival is your business”: engineering ruins and affect in nuclear America. Cultural Anthropology 23(2):361-398.
  • Binelli, Mark. 2012. ‘I came to see the end of the world!’ New York Times Magazine. Nov. 11, pp. 58-59.
  • Leary, John Patrick. 2011. DetroitismGuernica
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One Response to session 9 (dystopia 3: modern ruins, 3/27)

  1. Jonathan says:

    It might be interesting to contextualize Jane Jacobs’ work with Edensor’s Industrial Ruins.
    Jacobs was a critique of modern urban planning. In “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”, published in the sixties, she argues that ideally, a city accepts urban disorder into its planning; the natural development of a city is chaotic and what it thrives on is versatility. One of her major arguments is that neighboring buildings need to have mixed uses (equivalent to Edensor’s claims against the modern single-use buildings), and mixed ages.

    These days, Ruins stand apart. They can offer a refuge from an increasingly domesticating social world, from surveillance, the growing sterility of our cities.
    In the future, these same ruins might be further and further incorporated into the aseptic urban organism, such as the Chelsea Highline.

    It is possible to imagine future city planning in which Jacobs’ advice gets mangled; in which certain buildings in are designated, zoned to stay ruins; therefore serve for the same activities once praised by Edensor as alternatives to the highly-disciplined surrounding urban life – but no longer standing apart.

    Yuppie restaurants and lofts disguised as ruins, the “Steampunk” fad, and Detroit ruin tourism – all mark the beginning of the domestication of the industrial ruin.
    In that context it is much easier to see in the current uses of ruins, the future end of the squat.

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