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Salvage in Yūbari: Machizukuri Against Decline


Salvage in Yūbari: Machizukuri Against Decline

St-Pierre, Émile (2017) Salvage in Yūbari: Machizukuri Against Decline. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Using Anna Tsing‘s (2015) concept of salvage, this thesis examines how machizukuri (town-building) activities salvage the effects of decline in the former mining city of Yūbari into building a rural Japanese town. Rather than evaluating machizukuri activities based on their ability to produce capitalist value, reverse demographic decline, and restore progress, these activities are discussed as projects of salvage concerned with finding value in and caring for places and people left behind by progress. I review the history of teleological projects of progress in Hokkaido to showcase Yūbari‘s historical association with progress, and its subsequent association with economic and demographic decline following the end of the mining industry from the 1950s and its bankruptcy in 2006. I discuss the activities of a local organization and its re-use of a former power plant, using this example to highlight how heritage and pride in local history is salvaged from what would otherwise be ruins. I then use the example of slag heaps to unearth problems with the use of ―nostalgia‖ to describe rural revitalization efforts. Slag heaps are also used to interpret how the emotionally powerful language of the rural hometown is salvaged to showcase Yūbari as a warm, rural Japanese town instead of a declining coal mining city of the colonial frontier. I also consider how the conditions of rural decline can be salvaged to be part of networks of care in Yūbari: better ways of relating might be emerging from the places left behind by growth-driven development.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Sociology and Anthropology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:St-Pierre, Émile
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Social and Cultural Anthropology
Date:June 2017
Thesis Supervisor(s):Hetherington, Kregg
ID Code:982711
Deposited On:10 Nov 2017 14:26
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:55
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