Things Don't Really Exist Until You Give Them a Name: Unpacking Urban Heritage


Rachel Lee (ed)
Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment
Diane Barbé (ed)
Anne-Katrin Fenk (ed)
Keywords: urban heritage, art practice, research methods, activism, urban heritage toolkit, urban heritage conflicts, Urban heritage conundrum


Urban heritage conundrum
Urban built environments are spatial and material archives. Streets, buildings, open spaces, or infrastructures are registers of historical negotiations and repositories of data. Stories of power, geopolitics, economic systems, labour and culture can be revealed through road names and construction materials, portals and pediments, park benches and chimneys. Embodying our desires, needs, and resources, they condition how we live and interact with each other, and trigger countless reinterpretations and re-appropriations. Most of this dense layering is not immediately legible; it has not been decoded. Rather it is part of a more intuitive, lived sense of “urbanity” that generates contemporary individual and collective senses of identity and belonging. These complex urban palimpsests form the constitutive stages upon, with and against which everyday and extraordinary cultural life is performed. 


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Author Biography

Rachel Lee (ed), Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment

Rachel Lee is an assistant professor at TU Delft's Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, specializing in colonial and postcolonial architecture and urbanism. Her research focuses on the intersections of migration and exile, transnational practice, heritage, mobility, and gender in South Asia and East Africa. Currently a Mellon Fellow with the Canadian Centre for Architecture’s Centring Africa project, she is studying the German architecture firm Lippsmeier+Partner’s contribution to social infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa with Monika Motylińska. As an associated researcher with Metromod, her work has focused on contact zones in Mumbai and includes the co-edited volume Urban Exile: Theories, Methods, Research Practices (Intellect 2023). She is also part of an interdisciplinary team studying the spatial impact of global textile value chains on local communities through the project Localising Global Garment Biographies. With Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi, she edited the three volumes of Feminist Architectural Histories of Migration.


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be producing ethics for a future society

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Ibid., 153.

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Scholars Publishing, 2016), 14.

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Activists, 15



May 9, 2023


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