Decolonising Land Reclamation: Dis-entangling the Proto-geology of Belfast City Harbour

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract / Description of output

The City and Port of Belfast evolved artificially, a product and producer of Western industrialisation. The trajectory to become a leading industrial city of the British Empire was secured through an extensive project of reclaiming land from Belfast Lough, beginning in the early 1600s, to lay down a manmade land surface with a current area of over 21,000 acres. Contextualised by the recent discourse of the Anthropocene (and Capitalocene), under which the human is designated with a geological agency, the project of land reclamation gains a particular significance.

On the surface, the proto-geology that actualised the development of Belfast is entangled with the global complex of capitalism and colonisation. Equally, the stratified entirety of the land reclamation can be posited a 'hyperobject' (Morton 2015), a vast object distributed across and by time and space. But under the enterprise of decolonisation, how might this monumental landscape be (re)considered and what might such an impetus of decolonisation 'reclaim'?

This paper will introduce an artistic research project that has been initiated to explore these questions and more. This project will investigate the conditions of materialism occupied by Belfast Harbour's land reclamation from the position of decoloniality, proposing to dis-entangle the complex temporalities of this proto-geology. The anticipation of this practice-based research is the instrumentalisation of alternative temporalities, reconfiguring the material conditions of the manmade geology through artworks and strategies of intervention, and contextualised under the category of the monument. Such practices of the decolonisation of time gain particular significance with the upcoming centenary of Northern Ireland in 2021.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2019
EventMaking Public - PLACE Built Environment Centre, Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 Jan 2019 → …


ConferenceMaking Public
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period8/01/19 → …

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Belfast Harbour
  • Anthropocene
  • Decoloniality
  • Entanglement


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