Constance Smith

Grant Type

Workshop Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Manchester, U. of

Grant number

Gr. CONF-942

Approve Date

September 5, 2023

Project Title

Smith, Constance (Manchester, U. of) "Unbuilding: On the legacies and afterlives of designed environments"

In this workshop we turn our attention to the problem of ‘unbuilding’. Confronted with the crumbling legacy of 20th century infrastructures, the toxic effects of extractive and manufacturing industries, and the shadow futures of new investments, we are facing the urgent question of how to unbuild worlds. Beyond demolishing, deconstructing, undoing, and waiting, ‘unbuilding’ is a form of world-making in which the hubris of design is challenged by the temporalities of unruly materials as they break down, seep, and demand repair. Every act of making is foreshadowed by a simultaneous unmaking, demanding a requirement to rethink intentional acts of design in terms of their entanglement in a broader set of ecological relations. In this workshop, we seek to open up an anthropological attention to ‘unbuilding’ and to craft a conceptual lexicon to aid us in describing and interrogating these dynamics. We will bring together a group of scholars over four days who are working on sites of unbuilding around the world, to interrogate empirically and theoretically what unbuilding entails, the effects it produces and the political relations that it demands.