Corporate Wasteland

Corporate Wasteland

The Landscape and Memory of Deindustrialization

By David Lewis and Steven High



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Deindustrialization is not simply an economic process; it is also a social and cultural phenomenon. The rusting detritus of our industrial past-the wrecked halls of factories, abandoned machinery too large to remove, and now-useless infrastructures-has for decades been a part of the North American landscape. Through a unique blend of oral history, photographs, and interpretive essays, Corporate Wasteland investigates this fascinating terrain and the phenomenon of its loss and rediscovery.


Corporate Wasteland is more than simply the best book on deindustrialization; it’s a transnational road trip through the rustbelt with everyone from Woody Guthrie to Walker Evans, Joseph Schumpeter to John Steinbeck along for the ride, pointing out the details, arguing about what happened, and digging into the rich complexity of truth itself. The transcendent photographs of rotting industrial hulks and the elegiac words of the workers sear with the intensity of the once red-hot blast furnaces, now long grown cold. This book is not a lament – it is an interrogation of entire landscape.

– Jefferson Cowie, Cornell University, author of Capital Moves: RCA’s Seventy-Year Quest for Cheap Labor


Introduction The Landscape and Memory of Deindustrialization
Part I The Deindustrial Sublime
Chapter 1 Industrial Demolition and the Meaning of Economic Change in North America
Chapter 2 "Take Only Pictures and Leave Only Footprints": Urban Exploration and the Aesthetics of Deindustrialization
Chapter 3 From Cradle to Grave: The Politics of Memory in Youngstown, Ohio
Part II Oral History and Photography
Chapter 4 Out of Place: The Plant Shutdown Stories of Sturgeon Falls (Ontario) Paperworkers
Chapter 5 Gabriel's Detroit
Chapter 6 Deindustrial Fragments
Chapter 7 King Coal: The Coal Counties of West Virginia
Chapter 8 A Vanishing Landmark: Allied Paper in Kalamazoo, Michigan
Oral History Interviews Cited