The Valtellina and UNESCO: Making a Global Landscape
Abstract: Global in scope and transdisciplinary in method, this work examines the process through which local historic landscapes become global heritage sites. The Valtellina, a valley in the Italian Alps, is known for being unusually fertile for its elevation and latitude, and for the dry stone terraces on its steep hillsides that make this fertility possible. ProVinea, a local nonprofit, has applied to UNESCO to inscribe these landscapes onto its World Heritage list, representing the construction and use of the terraces as the heroic transformation of barren slopes into fertile fields. Drawing on Michel Serres’ theory of serial parasitism, this study demonstrates how ProVinea discursively and materially remakes the landscapes by culling the advantageous, eliminating the detrimental, and assembling the dispersed. A casualty of this process is a more complex and complete truth, one that this book aims to restore, while also acknowledging the validity of World Heritage’s efforts to build a global culture and ProVinea’s desire to connect to it.
Book: published by Lexington Books (Rowman and Littlefied) in September 2012; https://rowman.com/ISBN/9780739173466.
Parasitizing space for UNESCO World Heritage
Abstract: The work of Michel Serres has received recent attention in geographic scholarship, particularly his concept of the parasite. In this article I use this model to investigate an area of geographic study that has remained until now unexamined under this lens: the production of heritage landscapes. Through an engagement with a case from the Valtellina, a valley in the Italian Alps, I demonstrate the logic of the parasite that is evident in the actions of a local nonprofit organization that narratively and materially analyzes (culls), paralyzes (eliminates), and catalyzes (combines) local agricultural terraces in an application to UNESCO’s World Heritage list. I do this by parasitizing the terraces and the application myself as I analyze, paralyze, and catalyze them to render a still partial but fuller representation of the valley’s historic terraced landscapes. Parasites are ambivalent agents, abusive in some ways but useful in others.
Article: under final review for publication in Geoforum.
The Sicilian Baroque: Reconciling post-quake tensions
Abstract: Building on multiple discourses involving art, architecture, and catastrophe, this work examines how public practices and designs mediate the cultural, social, and political changes that occur after a disaster. It takes as its case study the reconstruction of Sicily’s Val di Noto following the earthquake of 1693 and the role that the Baroque architectural style played in it. Sicilian Baroque building decoration emerges as a fecund matrix that helped reconcile the tensions that inhere among architecture, catastrophe, community, and subject.
Article: under review for inclusion in special issue on baroque geographies to be published by Environment and Planning A.
Catastrophic Geographies: Special journal issue, co-guest-edited with Henry Sivak
Abstract: Catastrophes have long been understood as deviations from the normal processes of place making. As a result, they have not been sufficiently theorized in geographical terms. Yet, catastrophes and hazards continually remake the material world and condition our encounters with it, as in the wake of major environmental upheavals. They fuel perceptions of risk, prompting new modes of geographic perception, thought, engagement, and practice. And, they link geographical categories of space, place, and territory to the lived experiences of risk and hazard.
Special edition: submissions under peer review; foreword, introduction, and afterword in development; scheduled for publication by Geographical Review in April 2013
Disaster Humanities: The art of place recovery
Medical studies support the use of the arts and humanities in treatments designed to restore the integrity of a compromised subject. This study considers how these protocols, art therapy and the medical humanities, could also facilitate the recovery of places following catastrophe. It begins by investigating how practitioners use the arts and humanities in clinical therapy, continues by conceptualizing a place as a subject, follows with an examination of current disaster relief programs, and concludes by proposing key genres of artistic and humanistic work to be used in post-disaster recovery programs. Keywords: art, disaster, humanities, place, recovery, resilience.
Article: in development; to be submitted to Progress in Human Geography in December 2012.