Heritage-led development in Postindustrial Areas: a Systemic Approach to Industrial Landscapes

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This dissertation addresses the constraints in areas characterized by deindustrialization and proposes a heritage-led approach to their sustainable development, informed by the growing scholarship in landscape studies and the advances in systems science.

Postindustrial areas, where industry was once the community’s engine but it no longer has the power to operate the system, are a particularly sensitive area for development throughout the world, especially the ‘Western world’, as industry moves abroad or gives way to a new society based on services. Of these sites, the ones facing the biggest difficulties are old mining areas, due to their remoteness as place-based industries, which creates difficulties for development. Furthermore, their identity becomes shaped by population loss, pollution and economic stagnation, in overall decay and struggle. While heritage is often commodified and the industrial past evokes conflicting feelings, this dissertation proposes that industrial heritage in these places can become an engine for sustainable development, beyond tourism or museums.

Thirty years after the document that put the concept of Sustainable Development (SD) in the map, the Brundtland Report (WCED 1987), this dissertation celebrates the opportunity to engage with one of the great new steps in this movement: the inclusion of heritage in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, to be achieved by 2030. Using the framework of SD, this work analyses the particularities of postindustrial mining areas under the three main pillars of SD, economy, society and environment, as well as of the often called 4th pillar: culture, and proposes a strategy to achieve it.

To overcome the limitations to sustainable development at these areas, this dissertation proposes the use of the operative word of landscape, from a perspective informed by studies in industrial landscape archaeology and heritage. It also addresses the calls for an archaeology that engages with change and which expands the uses of landscape archaeology, as has been asked for by many authors. From this approach, by then applying systems theory to the analysis of the postindustrial mining landscape, this dissertation aims to provide an improved understanding of the phenomena in its various dimensions and offer an improved analytical technique to aid in the study and management of these areas.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Michigan Technological University
  • Martin, Patrick, Supervisor, External person
Award date6 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Deindustrialization
  • Industrial Landscape
  • Industrial Heritage
  • Sustainable Development


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