Another CHAT session, the my colleague Ben filmed for your viewing pleasure.
Rurbanities: Recording Rural Urbanities
Chiara Ronchini, Scotland’s Urban Past, Historic Environment Scotland.
This paper will explore community‐led archaeology in transitional and interstitial spaces in urban areas –rurbanities(1). Terms with negative connotations, such as ‘residual’, ‘marginalised’ and ‘in‐between‐ the‐buildings’, are often used to define rurbanities, implying that these areas are uninspiring, left‐over spaces within the urban fabric. On the contrary, rurbanities are very fertile ground, and have been chosen for their heritage significance, reclaimed and re‐ interpreted by local communities who have a connection with these places.
Within the framework of Scotland’s Urban Past (SUP), this paper will illustrate case studies of community groups, who are leading on projects discovering, recording and celebrating the heritage of rurbanities around Scotland’s towns and cities. Groups in Edinburgh, Livingston and Dundee are investigating the blueprint of urban areas, focusing on the heritage between the buildings to record and tell the story of the places – secret gardens, skateparks and re‐ruralised areas – that matter to them.
In line with the UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape, the notion of urban areas as a living organism made of tangible and intangible elements, and a complex system of social, economic and environmental values will be examined. According to this notion, local people are in charge of identifying what is significant and meaningful to them, breaking down the homogenised heritage narrative. This approach ensures that in‐between places –such as rurbanities – are re‐signified by local users, and gain new value and a more prominent role in urban archaeology. With SUP, for the first time, members of the public are able to add new local ‘rurban’ landmarks, and contribute their findings and memories of these places to the National Record of architecture, archaeology and industry. The aim is to demonstrate that rurbanities are not mere residual spaces indeed, because of their transitional nature and local importance, they are heritage to be interpreted, recorded and shared with everyone.
Rurban: Pronunciation: /ˈrəːb(ə)n/
adj. Of or pertaining to a location which has both urban and rural characteristics (Wiktionary)
Rurbanities are here intended by the Author as the noun referring to rurban locations.
What Lies Between the Trees of New York City’s Idyllic Rural Watershed? Artifacts of Urbanization
https://youtu.be/gMPdILd30nk April M. Beisaw,Vassar College, Poughkeepsie NY.
New York City engineered its idyllic rural watershed by transforming landscapes of production into landscapes of ruination, isolation, and gentrification. Farmlands, timberlands, quarries, mills, and other economically viable land uses were replaced with man‐made lakes, impenetrably dense forests, residential subdivisions, vacation homes, and mansions. This rurality was manufactured by the city through a combination of condemnation, sale, and absorption that drove residents and businesses away. Using water quality to justify the clearance, the watershed is now advertised as an ideal an unspoiled landscape. Archaeology of city‐owned lands up to 150km from the city, reveals how these places have long been an urban commodity and its Euro‐American residents have always been part of the urban system.
Living the Good Life in Leicester, Environment City
https://youtu.be/oTjTsNQlMaI Emma Dwyer (University of Leicester) & Hilary Orange (University College London)
Leicester’s prosperity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was built on three core industries – hosiery, boot and shoe manufacturing, and engineering. These industries went into decline from the 1960s onwards, as production was increasingly automated and globalised, leaving the city to find a new post‐industrial identity. This arrived in 1990 with the designation of Leicester as Britain’s first ‘Environment City’ (soon followed by Middlesbrough, Peterborough and Leeds), and the development of Leicester as a model of best practice with a commitment to improving the urban environment. Leicester worked to create and enhance open space in the city, and made efforts to foster urban wildlife ‐ the greening of Leicester was singled out for praise at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio. Initiatives for the greening of the city included the construction of the EcoHouse, an environmental showhome built of reclaimed materials with a solar thermal system, rainwater harvesting, and on‐site composting. The aim of the EcoHouse, and its cafe that served food grown on‐site, was to encourage the city’s residents and visitors to make green and sustainable changes to their own homes and gardens – a piece of the rural good life in the middle of Leicester.
This paper will look at how Leicester’s designation as an Environment City was played out through innovations in the built and natural environment, the impact of the project more than 25 years later, and how the city’s green identity has been overtaken by other narratives.
Imagination and Rural Beauty: Race and Gardening in the African‐American City
https://youtu.be/kggcrsRIZZg Paul R. Mullins
Indiana University‐Purdue University, Indianapolis.
Throughout the 20th century African‐American cities were dotted with ornamental gardens that hearkened to Southern rural traditions, provided inchoate imaginative retreats, and demonstrated aesthetic creativity, middle‐class discipline, and even raw affluence. This paper examines African‐
American ornamental gardens in 20th‐century Indianapolis, Indiana and focuses on the complicated performative dimensions and rich interiority of African American materiality. Gardens provide especially rich mechanisms to illuminate the inchoate African‐American imagination of nature that borrowed from African‐American rural heritage and fashioned a notion of nature that defied public constructions of race. Gardens provide a vehicle to examine how contemplative things and spaces
sparked an introspective and imaginative African American interior life.