Open seminar: The Urk World – Hibernating Infrastructures and the Quest for Urban Mining
This seminar by Björn Wallsten is open to all interested.
The research group After Discourse: Things, Archaeology, and Heritage in the 21st Century welcomes you to a Friday seminar at CAS.
Friday May 5, Björn Wallsten will give the paper "The Urk World – Hibernating Infrastructures and the Quest for Urban Mining". The seminar is open to all interested.
Cities everywhere are in a constant state of alteration, maintenance and destruction of their urban fabric; processes of continuous transformation of materials are part of the everyday urban life.
The research presented at this seminar, centers on case studies in two Swedish cities. It investigates subsurface infrastructure systems, the smooth functioning of which is often taken for granted, with a particular focus on the no longer functioning cables and pipes that are continuously disconnected and left behind, forming a metal deposit below city streets.
These hibernating quantities are evidence of society’s persistently wasteful handling of mineral resources such as copper. I term this largely unknown realm of system rejects the “Urk World”. “Urk” is short for “urkopplad”, meaning “disconnected” - an abbreviation often found on old Swedish infrastructure maps denoting abandoned infrastructure parts.
I scrutinize how the Urk World has emerged as an infrastructural phenomenon, its political relevance and how it could potentially be recycled due to its high concentrations of metals with resulting environmental benefits.
Björn Wallsten has a PhD in Environmental Systems Analysis and Environmental Management, and is currently employed as a Post Doc at the unit Tema Technology and Social Change, Linköping University. He is an appointed member of The Swedish National Committee for History of Technology and Science.