Anthropology and Environment Society
Oral Presentation Session
This paper interrogates the question of what is considered natural in modern construction practices. Based on long-term fieldwork among people working in a construction company in Copenhagen, I explore the relationship between artisanship, materiality, and politics in contemporary Denmark. Through their everyday work, builders gain concrete bodily and tactile experience with the materials used in construction work. By engaging with the materials, the builders develop an intimate knowledge of their composition and functionality which engenders a fascination about certain materials, such as wood, and a reaction of disgust against others. In this paper, I focus on these affective reactions and moments of enchantment sparked by certain materials. I show how this is expressed through ways of touching and talking, and how they translate into ideas about ‘good building practices’ that challenge existing national standards of construction. In this way builders (re)introduce the question of ‘the natural’ into debates around building practices, and cultivate, I suggest, new moral and political attitudes toward the methods and materials of construction and the surrounding urban landscape.