Playgrounds and bombsites: post-war Britain’s ruined landscapes

Highmore, Ben (2013) Playgrounds and bombsites: post-war Britain’s ruined landscapes. Cultural Politics, 9 (3). pp. 323-336. ISSN 1743-2197

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This essay argues that bombsites in Britain were a vivid component of a social imaginary that informed the post-war social settlement. Post-war reconstruction, which often involved additional demolition, also produced ruined landscapes that were complexly associated with war damage. The bombsite-demolition site as an accidental or purposeful playground for children added to the vacillating meanings of these ruined landscapes, as they signalled both the destructive power of modern industrial violence, and the resilient and resourceful power of children and play to reconstitute and repair such landscapes. The image of children playing amongst ruins joined these two meanings together making the bombsite into a habitat for “feral” youth – the imagined threat that haunts the Welfare State. By attending to the material and symbolic landscapes of post-war ruins we can see a cultural politics struggling with internal anxieties and ruinous identifications.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Subjects: D History General and Old World
Depositing User: Ben Highmore
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2015 07:54
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2019 01:16

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