Petra Burianová

Transitional State(s): ‘Body cams. Razor Wire. Deets.’

This paper brings together contemporary Scottish literature, architecture, and transnational politics through the analysis of Ali Smith’s recent novels Spring and Summer, wherein the issue of the housing of those detained by the state and the way in which architecture directly imposes on citizens’ freedoms is being discussed.

The detention facilities featured in these texts represent the embodiment and distribution of power through the built environment, and Smith utilises architecture as a vehicle to point out inequalities in the system. By employing the argument that literature and architecture have both reflective and formative powers with respect to the nation we can avoid the trap of essentialist thinking and draw insights concerning the question of the building of the nation—both concerning its political and social structure, and also the physical structures that house the powers of the state—that are especially relevant today, post-Brexit and facing a potential second referendum on Scottish independence.

This paper is part of a Wolfson Foundation funded PhD thesis that focuses on the role of architecture in contemporary Scottish fiction.

Petra Burianová, Wolfson Scholar, University of Southampton