© 2019

Photography and the Non-Place

The Cultural Erasure of the City


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xx
  2. Jim Brogden
    Pages 1-12
  3. Jim Brogden
    Pages 13-50
  4. Jim Brogden
    Pages 51-109
  5. Jim Brogden
    Pages 111-144
  6. Jim Brogden
    Pages 145-209
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 211-218

About this book


This book presents a critical and aesthetic defence of “non-place” as an act of cultural reclamation. Through the restorative properties of photography, it re-conceptualises the cultural significance of non-place. The non-place is often referred to as “wasteland”, and is usually avoided. The sites investigated in this book are located where access and ownership are often ambiguous or in dispute; they are places of cultural forgetting. Drawing on the author’s own photographic research-led practice, as well as material from photographers such as Ed Ruscha, Joel Sternfeld and Richard Misrach, this study employs a deliberately allusive intertexuality to offer a unique insight into the contested notions surrounding landscape representation. Ultimately, it argues that the non-place has the potential to reveal a version of England that raises questions about identity, loss, memory, landscape valorisation, and, perhaps most importantly, how we are to arrive at a more meaningful place. 


urban landscape Memory palimpsest interdisciplinary discourse representation geography culture creative practice post fordism eco-criticism practice-led research

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of LeedsLeedsUK

About the authors

Jim Brogden is Lecturer in Visual Communication Culture and MA Programme Leader for Film, Photography and Media at the University of Leeds, UK. 

Bibliographic information


“Hauntingly beautiful and powerfully resonant in its twin pursuit of photographing and theorizing the repressed ‘non-places’ left in the wake of late capitalism's re-ordering of urban life, Brogden's book insists on the camera's capacity for uncovering overlooked facets of reality and thus for critiquing the ideology of progress that exiles working-class life in particular, from collective memory.” (Ulrich Baer, New York University, USA)

“In Brogden’s hands, photography becomes the deposit that attention pays to the forlorn and untended wastelands of the city. Eschewing the modernist’s romance with the marginal, he embraces the critical historian’s eye for the forgotten and untold. This is essential reading and viewing for anyone interested in a political poetics of space.” (Ben Highmore, University of Sussex, UK)

“Jim Brogden successfully weaves his impassioned lens on visual culture with his research-led practice, offering us an original and provocative haunting of the city. He powerfully exposes the contradictory forms—present yet absent—of place to reveal contested and forgotten histories of people, work, culture and conflict. For Brogden, place is filled with both the melancholia of loss and the optimism of renewal.” (Andrew Hoskins, University of Glasgow, Scotland)

“Through these beautiful and challenging images, Brogden explores and interprets the debris of industrial decay or pockets of regeneration as seen through an unchecked wilderness of new plant growth. Brogden examines urban landscape as a site of metaphor and metonym.” (Roger Palmer, University of Leeds, UK)

“Brogden has a great ability to address the important and meaningful nuances and details in non-sites in a way which is not nostalgic or didactic. He makes us aware of the alternative ways of seeing and being, of relating and reflecting.” (Mika Hannula, University of Gothenburg, Sweden)

“I really think that this work is an important commentary on place and late capitalism.” (Mark Lagory, University of Alabama, USA)