1: Rem(a)inders of loss: a Lacanian approach to new urban ruins

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In recent years, human geography and other related fields have developed an increasing interest in ruins of the recent past. Expressions such as ‘ruins of modernity’ (Dawdy, 2010; Hell and Schönle, 2010), ‘industrial ruins’ (Edensor, 2005; Mah, 2012) or ‘new ruins’ (Kitchin et al, 2014; Martin, 2014) bear witness to rising attention to the relevance of studying material leftovers of our time. Throughout these debates, several attempts have been made to define what is ‘new’ about ruins of today. Kitchin et al (2014) consider the ruins that appeared after the global financial crisis in 2008 as a new form of ruination because, here, ruins were not a result of disuse, but a product of speculation about a promised future. The ‘ghost estates’ in Ireland, for instance, have never been used and are therefore considered testimonies of novel financialised forms of urbanisation. Another differentiation between ‘old’ and ‘new’ ruins can be found in Dylan Trigg’s (2009: 142–50) The Aesthetics of Decay. Comparing ‘classical’ and post-industrial ruins, Trigg pursues the argument that the classical ruin, in contrast to the ruin of the present, is no longer considered as in an active process of decay, which allows us to perceive it as an absolute object in order, which might even be viewed as a beautiful object. In the ruin of the present, however, the process of decay is still ongoing, offering an understanding of ruins as structures in which decay is still hovering. In the new ruin, disorder and ongoing destruction predominate aesthetic perception.

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The New Urban Ruins
Vacancy, Urban Politics and International Experiments in the Post-crisis City