Abandoned places. Atmospheres of ruins and ghost towns

The aim of this seminar is to explore the role of abandoned places as sites that offer a lens into people’s perception of past and future.

Abandoned places may emerge as a consequence of urbanisation, violent conflict, or, particularly in the west, as post-industrial society is increasingly leaving industrial and rural areas depopulated. On the one hand abandoned places may evoke nostalgia or melancholy, and on the other hand they also offer a re-use potential for creative arts or sites for tourism.

Furthermore, the recent phenomenon of ‘modern ghost towns’ in Asia and Africa invites for consideration of prospective ruins that not only illuminates perceptions of past but also futures and the role of atmospheres in perceptions of space. Studying sites of abandonment and absence can thus inform a theorizing of ruins and ghost towns as affective, economic, and transformative sites.

Format and registration to seminar

The keynote speakers will pre-circulate two weeks in advance, two articles for discussion: one they have written, and one they are inspired by. These will be discussed in plenum in terms of perspectives they offer in understanding the themes. This is followed by five presentations (20 minutes presentation and 10 minute discussion). The seminar will host a maximum of 25 participants.


  • Dr. Tim Edensor, Geographer, Reader, Manchester Metropolitan University, working on industrial ruins, and more recently on atmosphere.
  • Dr. Alfredo Gonzalez-Ruibal, Archaeologist, Institute of Heritage Sciences of the Spanish National Research Council, working on wars, failed development projects, predatory capitalism and totalitarianism in Spain, Ethiopia, Brazil, and Equatorial Guinea.
  • Dr. Yael Navaro-Yashin (via Video-link), Anthropologist, Senior Lecturer, University of Cambridge, working in Turkey and more recently in Cyprus on affect, ruins and postwar conflict in Northern Cyprus.