Landscapes of waste and the industrial production of heritage

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper considers interlinked processes of waste production and management as an example of heritage creation and maintenance. Building upon recent studies of processes of decay and waste heritage management (e.g. DeSilvey 2017, Buser 2016), through examination of several former industrial sites in East London, I explore how waste can be seen as a raw material that can be utilised to literally and figuratively underpin heritage narratives across different landscapes. East London’s terrain has been radically modified since the 18th-century as a result of interlinked processes of industrialisation and urbanisation. Waste materials produced through these processes have played a crucial role in shaping the area’s topography and built environment. These materials’ uses ranged from clay produced by dock excavation utilised in brickmaking, to the dumping of hundreds-of-thousands of tons of rubbish to reclaim land for new buildings. Such processes show that waste can be valued not only as a useful construction material but also for its ability to facilitate new visions of how a district should be (re)developed and indeed, how such transformation becomes part of the heritage of an area. This paper presents the results of a pilot study into this topic and explores how the idea of ‘waste heritage’ connects with broader materialist concepts in recent debates in the geohumanities.

Buser, M., 2016. Rubbish Theory: The Heritage of Toxic Waste. Reinwardt Academy.
DeSilvey, C., 2017. Curated Decay: Heritage Beyond Saving. University of Minnesota Press.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 29 Aug 2020
EventAssociation of Critical Heritage Studies Conference -
Duration: 27 Aug 202030 Aug 2020


ConferenceAssociation of Critical Heritage Studies Conference

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • waste
  • rubble
  • geohumanities
  • decay
  • wastelands
  • value
  • contemporary archaeology
  • critical heritage


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