Accepted Paper:

Reykjavík's modern ruins: a heritage of the economic collapse?  


Gísli Pálsson (University of Iceland)

Paper short abstract:

An exploration of the abandoned building site as locus of authorized heritage, intangible heritage and counter-heritage. Main themes include: ruinscapes, heritage, emplaced memory. The building sites are in Reykjavík, abandoned and left unfinished in the wake of the economic collapse of 2007.

Paper long abstract:

Iceland's economy expanded significantly in the 21st century leading up to 2007, and the effects of the global economic collapse were harrowing. At the time, Reykjavík was undergoing significant redevelopment, with many of the new building projects recognizably 'new' and distinct from what had been built before, built according to the aesthetic mores and needs of a parvenu elite. Many of these projects are now unfinished and will remain so for the foreseeable future. What will become of these sites? Can they be viewed as a heritage of the inimitable years of 2004-2007, when no expenses were spared in 'hypermodernizing' Reykjavík?

While the current legislation certainly does not favour the formulation of recent materiality as heritage, there is a growing recognition worldwide for archaeology and the heritage industry to come to terms with our recent past. In this paper I will discuss recent developments in heritage practice as well as recent scholarship in a range of fields that shed light on the value and meaning of ruins and places of abjection.

Panel S03
Who needs experts? Counter mapping cultural heritage