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Entangled agencies, material networks and repair in a building assemblage: the mutable stone of St Ann’s Church, Manchester

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Abstract:

This article explores the fluidities and stabilities of urban materiality by looking at the ongoing emergence of a 300-year-old church in central Manchester. The notion of assemblages is utilised to investigate how places, such as the building featured here, are simultaneously destroyed and altered by numerous agencies, and stabilised by repair and replacement building material. By examining the vital properties of stone and the particular non-human agents that act upon the stony fabric of the building, I explore some of the processes that render matter continuously emergent. I subsequently consider the consequences of these material transformations by looking at how they promote the enrolment of two human processes of spatial (re)ordering, the forging of connections between the city and sites of stone supply, and the changing and contested process of repair and maintenance. I argue that by acknowledging complexity, historical depth and geographical scale, non-human and human entanglements, and ambiguity, we might write accounts that do justice to the emergence, contingency and unpredictability in a world of innumerable agencies.

Keywords: Manchester; assemblage; connections; non-human agency; repair; stone

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-5661.2010.00421.x

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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