Accepted paper:

Maintenance matters


Ingrid Martins Holmberg (Institute of Conservation, University of Gothenburg)
Elena Bogdanova (Centre for Independent Social Research )

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the enduring values and meanings within ordinary contexts of 'maintenance, mending and repair' in relation to houses, homes and buildings, and which enable for 'the past' to endure and remain in our contemporary modern world that normally constantly aims at 'newness'

Paper long abstract:

This paper presents research on ordinary contexts of 'maintenance, mending and repair' of houses, homes and buildings, which may be seen as bearers and upholders of endurance and socio-material cohesion. The practices of maintenance, mending and repair mediate temporality (enhancing the past-in the present, for the future) in a way that indicates an a-modern and anti-modernist production of the material world. They are what Thrift (2009) referred to as 'glue' amounting to a resource in the face of the anthropocene. These contexts of concern comprise laypersons or officers providing particular knowledge and skills, as well as craftsmen/women. Theoretically our research is framed by the concept of "orders of worth" developed by (Boltanski and Thèvenot 1999). Instead of considering taken-for-granted routine interactions and conflict resolution, we approach the modes of justification, institutionally linked discourses embodying specific orientations generating actions and evaluation, as well as "regimes of engagement" (Thèvenot 2007). Empirically, we aim to identify the core sets of values and meanings of mending, maintenance and repair of buildings, and their interplay. We will evaluate the contribution of these core values in their material entanglement and in relation to the global challenges of sustainability and the survival of the earth. Moreover, we aim to frame the common contexts of 'mending, maintenance and repair' in terms of ethics. In particular, we will explore how the experience of repair may entail a capacity for reconciliation, sharing features with ethical and political decisions -- material, social and emotional attachment.

panel Mat02
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