Dr Angela McClanahan

7th March 2014

Interrogating Northerness in Neolithic Orkney: A Contemporary Monumental Biography

This talk explores how the concept of sustainability in particular regions of the UK North tend to be presented aesthetically in two seemingly contradictory ways. On the one hand, many regions are viewed as possessing a deep and timeless cultural ‘otherness’, whilst also being presented as scientifically minded regions in which communities are actively involved in pioneering cutting edge forms of technology and scientific enterprise relating to renewable energy and critical conservation philosophies on the other. Using the prehistoric landscapes of the Orkney Islands as a case study, I highlight the often paradoxical arguments that tend to arise from these competing characterisations, which tend to come into conflict when planning projects are at stake, especially when the implementation of large-scale, visible technologies are perceived to aesthetically ‘threaten’ picturesque landscapes and the authenticity of the archaeological past. I argue here that the values outlined in these arguments are ultimately both tethered to humanist conceptions of social and cultural capital as defined by the World Bank, and have a great deal more in common than is first apparent, making their objectives difficult to disentangle.

Angela’s primary research interests include examining how people engage with and construct meaning from the material world. She explores how the things and places we make and use are interpreted, ordered and displayed to construct politicised narratives of historic and contemporary cultures in museums, galleries and landscape contexts.

Dr Angela McClanahan Poster – Opens pdf