Publication Date

Fall 2019


This dissertation recounts a series of episodes in the architectural conservation of the Old City of Acre in Israel. It studies the stones and mortars, residents and inspectors, papers and computers involved in the conservation of historic buildings, highlighting the moments in which the technical details of architectural conservation entangle themselves with the administrative techniques of government authorities. I describe architectural conservation as a tentative process, one that requires the coordination of various actants into precarious associations. Here, description is important. The pages that follow experiment with an anthropological practice that writes against conclusion. This is an anthropology that refuses to privilege a knowing subject and a stable world. Instead, it opts to tinker with noncoherent forms of analysis, forms that can grapple with realities that can always be done differently.


Israel/Palestine, actor-network theory, failure, architecture, preservation, coherence

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Les Field

Second Committee Member

Ronda Brulotte

Third Committee Member

David Dinwoodie

Fourth Committee Member

Lindsay Smith

Fifth Committee Member

Khaldun Bshara

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Anthropology Commons