Unconscious life of old town: a psychoanalytic study of Edinburgh’s historic city
Hyllen, Klas Harry Jack
This thesis primarily considers the notion of “museumisation” in the context of the Old Town; Edinburgh’s historic city. It argues that the city has suffered a series of collective traumas which has left it in a state of urban stagnation where the romanticism of history has become Old Town’s raison d’être. This claim has been explored on two fronts; first, a body of text outlining a literary argument rooted in theory, and second, emerging from the first, a body of creative work that engages the theoretical argument with a wider public audience in an exhibition format. The notion of history is explored primarily through psychoanalysis as it attempts to unlock the unconscious and subjective past of the city. Theories relating to the production of space and the history of thought extend this allegorical argument as an archaeological process explores an alternative interpretation of the past. This fragmented method culminates in a criticism of the contemporary understanding of the Old Town where the surface effect created by the authority of vision, as a symbol for conscious wisdom and reason, is argued to be rooted in a series of collective defence mechanisms repressing the city’s haunted past.