Spotlight on Cultural Landscapes
CCL Lecture and Round Table with Caitlin DeSilvey
On April 10th, the Center for Cultural Landscapes hosted Caitlin DeSilvey, Associate Professor of Cultural Geography at the University of Exeter, as part of its ongoing series of Restoration round tables during the 2017-2018 school year. This set of discussions, organized by Lisa Goff, Assistant Professor of American Studies, aims to examine the concept of restoration in multiple disciplines across built, natural, historic, political and literary environments. This round table discussion followed DeSilvey’s delivery of the 2018 Hanbury Endowed Lecture in Historic Preservation entitled Curated Decay: Inevitable Loss and Other Opportunities.
In her presentations, DeSilvey started with her early experience as a curator of a derelict homestead in Montana. She described her engagement with objects like an abandoned book collection that had become habitat for various creatures, which once preserved lost some of their vitality. This ambivalence about the act of ‘saving’ objects, often seen as the primary goal of historic preservation, led to her career in exploring alternative practices that engage various temporal processes, included decay, disturbance, inhabitation, succession and loss. These practices, DeSilvey argues, are becoming increasingly necessary in a world full of significant histories affected by processes like climate change, deindustrialization, fiscal austerity, and abandonment.
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