Making and unmaking in landscapes of progress

Speaker: Arvid van Dam # University of Leeds

14th Jan 2019

15:30 - 17:00

CMB Staff Room (6th Floor)

In this talk, I depart from the observation that common understandings of abandonment as a flipside of urbanisation, effectively a form of neglect, is inaccurate, and that abandonment is instead a culturally sensitive project. To do so, I present a conceptualisation of unmaking as a form of productive engagement: an active and affective process. The material I present focuses on the cultural significance of living a life among ruins, and the accounts of people who have abandoned or are in the process of abandoning their rural homes and modes of production. Elaborating on maintenance as a form of containing decay, I expose the temporal configurations of the process of unmaking – nostalgic apprehensions of the past, a sense of stuckness in the present, the fuzzy absence of a future, and, above all, people’s everyday productive engagement in the process. Ultimately, I argue for a focus on the intentionality behind environmental transformation and underlines the importance of unmaking as a line of becoming in environmental studies. Environmental crises, I maintain, requires an unlearning of what counts as cultural production.

Arvid van Dam is PhD Candidate at the University of Leeds