“Curated Decay: Subtle Ambush or Slippery Slope?”
Overview: Is it possible to imagine a post-preservationist orientation to the things that we classify as ‘heritage’? What new relationships with the past (and the future) might emerge from a heritage practice that works with—rather than against—transience and decay? Can we make space for the creative co-existence of ecological process and cultural remembrance? In her 2017 book, Curated Decay: Heritage Beyond Saving, Caitlin DeSilvey raises these questions, and others. In this lecture she will revisit the book’s key themes and discuss some of the questions that have arisen from its reception in both academic and practitioner contexts. The lecture will use excerpted readings as prompts to critical reflection on the viability of the book’s argument in relation to issues of politics, policy and poetics.
Caitlin DeSilvey is Associate Professor of Cultural Geography at the University of Exeter, where she has been employed since 2007. Her research explores the cultural significance of material and environmental change, with a particular focus on heritage contexts. She is currently co-investigator on the ‘Heritage Futures’ (hyperlink: https://heritage-futures.org/) project, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council to explore the potential for innovation and creative exchange across a broad range of heritage and related fields. She was a 2016-17 fellow at the Centre for Advanced Study, Olso, as part of the ‘After Discourse’ (hyperlink: https://cas.oslo.no/research-groups/after-discourse-things-archaeology-and-heritage-in-the-21st-century-article1802-827.html) research group. Recent publications include Anticipatory History (2011, with Simon Naylor and Colin Sackett), Visible Mending (2013, with Steven Bond and James R. Ryan) and Curated Decay: Heritage Beyond Saving (2017).