Thinking against Heritage: speculative development and emancipatory politics in the City of London
(2019) Journal of Urbanism, 12 (3), pp. 279-295.
What does a political conceptualisation of the relationship between urban development and heritage involve? Against the widespread idea that there is a conflict between densification and the protection of historic buildings and sites in the City of London, I show that a conservative heritage discourse promotes the construction of speculative towers. Arguing against a City that is privately owned, self-competing and socially homogeneous, I develop a democratic understanding of history that contests an essentialist reading of the city and challenges the idea that speculative developments direct attention to and visually enhance historic landmarks. Aligning historical analysis with political critique, I draw on the work of Walter Benjamin and Michel Foucault and discuss notions of “historical events” and “cultural treasures” in order to think against the prevailing speculative logic in the city. © 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
critical theory; Heritage values; London; Speculative development; Urban politics