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Accepted Contribution:

Losing landscapes and contact with the ground: the stakes of urban transformations in Vilnius, Lithuania  
Vaiva Aglinskas (CUNY Graduate Center. Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore)

Contribution short abstract:

As skyscrapers fill in the “Architectural hill” of the Vilnius business district, entire slopes of actual hills are disappearing in the historical city center and its periphery. How do construction stakes serve as vehicles of affect and harbingers of loss in this shape-shifting terrain?

Contribution long abstract:

In the Spring of 2013, the municipality of Vilnius decided to cut down all the trees on Gediminas castle mound to make the city’s central historic landmark more visible. This resulted in landslides over the following years that accidentally also unearthed historically significant remains of rebels from 1863. The mishap also provided fertile ground for ironic poems and new “phrases of the year” such as “I'm holding up like Gediminas Hill”. Another humorous phrase “trinkelizacija” circulates as a critique of over-paving urban surfaces with EU funding, leaving less actual ground to walk on in the city. I argue that an emotional rollercoaster of suspicion, apprehension, shock, anger, grief, resignation, or occasionally hope is initially triggered by a mundane object - the stake - that appears in the urban landscape as a harbinger of change. In 2021, as part of a militant research project, the Naujininkai Commons Collective symbolically repurposed such stakes to claim common ground and point out edible plants as an act of counter-mapping and resistance to the construction of massive new housing complexes that not only blocked access to public green space but drastically excavated and removed entire hillsides. Stakes, in this case, refer both to the “affectively charged material object" (Newell 2018) of a pointed piece of wood driven into the ground as a marker, but also the risks and personal investment - what is at stake- for both real estate developers and residents caught up in the power struggle to transform or retain terrain.

Roundtable RT178
Doing and undoing grounds: rethinking the groundings of anthropocene anthropology
  Session 1 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -