Dear Stadtkolloquium colleagues
Please consider submitting a paper that ethnographically explores the shifting terrain of the tower block for a panel at the ASA 2018 Conference at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford, September 18-21, 2018. Please submit an abstract by 20 April to https://nomadit.co.uk/asa/asa2018/conferencesuite.php/panels/6773
Many thanks, Constance Smith (University of Manchester) and Saffron Woodcraft (UCL)
Tower block failures: high-rise anthropology
In the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster in London and recent devastating tower block collapses in cities such as Nairobi, Mumbai, and Rio de Janeiro, failed buildings have exposed the injustices of austerity politics, the volatility of construction materials, and disregard for regulations and planning. These catastrophic failures have also reanimated debates about 'proper' forms of urban living, the political economy of the city and the widening inequalities and insecurities that seem to characterise contemporary urban life.
Yet, tower blocks have also been symbols of modernity, status and aspiration. From UK post-war promises of an inclusive future in the 'cities in the sky' to the edifice complex of skyscraper cities such as New York and Hong Kong, the tower block has been a place of dreams as well as nightmares. Even when they fail, tower blocks continue to shape the sociality, politics and materiality of our cities in important ways, influencing the design of future communities, economies of investment and development, and forms of political activism.
We invite papers that ethnographically explore this shifting terrain of the tower block. Whether as contested symbol, site of collapse or shattered home, tower block failure exposes the precarity of urban life whilst also acting as a catalyst for its transformation.