Rethinking No Man's Land: Sanctuaries in the Urban Dead Zone
Lecturer, Department of Geography, Durham University
In Western cultural memory, ‘no-man’s land’ commonly invokes the killing fields of the First World War. But the story of no-man’s land does not end in 1918. Violent conflicts have created a variety of no-man’s lands, from demilitarized zones to unclaimed border regions. Other areas have been condemned as no-man’s lands because of environmental disasters and ruination. The 30km exclusion zone around Chernobyl is perhaps the most obvious example, but evacuated mining towns in Australia and military sites in North America offer equally important insights into the production of such spaces. Today, no-man’s lands continue to haunt our political landscapes, but rather than far flung border regions, they take the form of urban ‘dead zones’, sites governed by abandonment and enclosure. In this talk, I revisit the no-man’s lands of the present, and rethink their simultaneous function as sites of exclusion and harbours of new forms of sociality and solidarity.
This City Talk was co-sponsored by the European Union Centre of Excellence at the University of Victoria.