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Making the Local: Anthropology & the Suburban Citizen

Jeevendrampillai, D; (2016) Making the Local: Anthropology & the Suburban Citizen. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Through anthropology at the edge, this thesis looks at how social projects form in dialogic relation to the ‘other’ as they meet and contest the meaning, values and forms of the material world. This PhD emerged between two social projects who aimed to make better suburbs. One, the Adaptable Suburbs Project (ASP) aimed to release the “untapped potential” of suburbs through a methodology of architectural analysis that combined different data sources. An online mapping platform aimed to collect oral testimonies from residents to reveal the “meaning, values, symbols” of the built environment. The location of a mountain, destroyed by a giant, was added by a group of local enthusiasts - the “Seething Villagers”. Playing with notions of history, myth and “fact”, Seethingers create events and “stupid” stories to create meaningful communities which “allow people to shine”. The story was refused by the ASP as the historical “fact” compromised the communicative ideal of deliberative democracy that underpinned the mapping project. Both social projects, one making better through academically informed planning policy at a national level, the other through forming “resilient” communities at a local level, met again in a council meeting. Here one social project, - Seethingers, as local citizens - articulated the values and meanings of the built environment through the framework of the other in order to object to planning application. It is here where the effects of the refusal were felt again. Producing efficacious knowledge and articulations about the world takes “work”. This thesis asks what sorts of subjectivities emerge at the edge of social projects, in moments of contestations, and what is lost in this process? Subjectivities emerge, not from the centre of a social project, but from the edge where it is always meeting the other. This thesis examines (and is) the material transfer of knowledge of ‘the other’ and its social, ethical and political implications.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Making the Local: Anthropology & the Suburban Citizen
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: architecture, Material Culture, Built Environment, Suburbs, democracy
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1474045
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