Assaying history: creating temporal junctions through urban exploration

Bradley Garrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper discusses the role of encounters with the past in the practice of urban exploration through ethnographic research undertaken with communities of urban explorers. Urban exploration is an activity intimately connected with places that have largely reached the end of their capitalist use-life. In this paper I argue that the practice enticingly complicates understandings of places by unveiling unexpected material traces and immaterial affordances that build resilient personal attachments where the ‘present’ tangibly intersects with the ‘past’. In the process urban exploration exposes possibilities for a cultural use-life of abandoned buildings beyond the event of abandonment, with or without formal historical interpretation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1048 – 1067
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2011


  • urban exploration
  • trespass
  • ethnography
  • photography
  • history
  • ruins

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