Tom Keeley paper at Post-Traumatic Landscapes Symposium

America Deserta Revisited

Tom Keeley

In the 1980s English architecture historian and critic Reyner Banham published an account of his travels across his adopted home of the United States, Scenes in America Deserta. This critic-cum-tourist model revealed the eccentric byways of American culture while assaying its range of natural features. At a point when the country’s national character and international standing were in transitional, if not perilous, condition, America Deserta Revisited documented a journey across the United States in the summer of 2011. Engaging the country by train at a time when petrol was at the centre of debate in the American economy and politics, this series looked for the key urban issues facing a country in flux.

The third instalment of the series focussed on the city of Detroit, Michigan; a city that has been described, almost mythically in recent years, as the symbol of post-industrial decline. America Deserta Revisited went to explore whether a new model of urbanism, of ingenuity, could provide solutions for the city’s future.

America Deserta Revisited was made into series of publications, and published as essays for the Italian design and architecture magazine Domus.


Tom Keeley is an artist, writer and researcher concerned with exploring unsung geographies, everyday landscapes and overlooked architectures, often through printed matter. His work is in the collections of the National Art Library at the V&A; and the School of Architecture Library at Princeton University.

tom keeley

To reserve a free place at the symposium (which will take place on May 22nd, 10am-4pm), please visit our eventbrite page.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s