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Alice Mah

In: The SAGE Handbook of the 21st Century City

Chapter 11: Ruination and Post-industrial Urban Decline

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Ruination and Post-industrial Urban Decline
Ruination and Post-industrial Urban Decline
Alice Mah

Ruination and decline are enduring urban themes in popular culture, literature, history, and urban sociology. From classical ruins of ‘great’ civilizations, to bombed-out buildings in the aftermath of war, to abandoned factories and derelict cinemas, ruins have provoked reflection for centuries. There has been a surge of new interest in modern ruins in the twenty-first century. Coffee table books abound featuring ‘ruins porn,’ particularly the much photographed ruins of Detroit. It is easy to be critical of the phenomenon of the ‘dereliction tourist,’ the voyeur snapping photos of ruins where communities once thrived (Mah 2014a). Tim Strangleman (2013) rejects such a view, arguing that the trend in photographing industrial ...

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