Cultural Economy of Reuse. Environmental Lunchtime Discussion

In this talk, sustainability and tourism researcher Per Strömberg discusses the practices of ‘adaptive reuse’ of buildings as part of a cultural economy. He considers ‘reuse value’ is a cultural capital which is used as a rhetorical device in the discourse of sustainability and circular economy, but also, something that can be converted into economic capital in urban redevelopment.

A white warehouse or factory building stands tall against the blue backdrop of a clear sky

Photo: Per Strömberg.

About the presentation

Due to structural changes in the Western hemisphere during the last decades, vacant factories, industrial ruins, warehouses and disengaged waterfronts have become desirable urban areas. They have become the new temples of culture, creating space for art, cultural events, and commercial activities such as galleries, concert halls and museums, as well as marketing-events, shopping centers, restaurants, and lifestyle hotels. The principle of this transformation act is utterly based on ‘appropriation’, which is a well-established art practice of making new uses for objects, images, and artifacts of a culture. Place-making based on the principle of reuse is important to the cultural economy as is their capacity of expressing ‘creativity’. Reuse value is a cultural capital which is used as a rhetorical device in the discourse of sustainability and circular economy, which has recently been added to vocabulary of ‘new economies’.

This presentation wraps up a previous research project that aimed to explore the practices of ‘adaptive reuse’ as part of a cultural economy in which ‘reuse value’ is created, staged and traded. The goal was to explore the theoretical connection between art, consumption and reuse, and to generate new knowledge about the nature of aestheticization processes and the way cultural heritage is re-appropriated in consumer society. Such a discussion would help us to understand the role of and the ideological interests in ‘post-industrial reuse’ in relation to urban redevelopment and the growing concern for environmental and cultural sustainability.

What are the features and values of reuse in the post-industrial society? More specifically, what does this ‘cultural alchemy’ (Löfgren 2005) of appropriation consist of? Moreover, what is the role and incentives of reuse in today’s consumer society? How does ‘post-industrial reuse’ relate to the discourse of sustainability in urban development? In other words, what kind of rhetoric devices is ideologically imbedded in reuse as a practice? And finally, how does this ‘creative destruction’ of former buildings relate to the cultural heritage policies? Or – to twist the concept of Schumpeter – are reuse practices rather a matter of ‘destructive creativity’?

About the presenter

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Per Strömberg.

Ph.D. Per Strömberg, architecture historian from Uppsala University. The presentation is based on a previous postdoctoral project, funded by Swedish Research Council, in which he explores adaptive reuse of buildings as an innovation strategy in tourism, event, and retailing. One example is “Funky Bunkers. The Post-Military Landscape as a Readymade Space and a Cultural Playground” (2013) in which he uses art theory to understand the complexity of the cultural economy of reuse. Another article scrutinizes fashion event-making in post-industrial spaces. A third article focus on the transformation of meatpacking districts into spaces of leisure, culture, and food. Since 2012, he holds a position as Ass. Prof. in tourism studies at University College of Southeast Norway.

About the event series

The OSEH Environmental Lunchtime Discussion series consists of short, 15 minute presentations by invited guests, followed by a discussion. We invite speakers from a wide variety of fields, both academic and beyond. The presentations are accessible and are aimed at anyone with an interest in environmental issues. All are welcome.

Tags: HF, Environmental Humanities, Tourism, IKOS
Published Feb. 28, 2022 7:51 PM - Last modified Apr. 21, 2022 10:46 AM