Christchurch Cathedral, a building considered an icon of Christchurch, a physical manifestations of the city’s past, suffered great damage in the series of 2010/11 earthquakes and the uncertainties of the future of its ruins and artefacts has provoked a public debate, as well as an outcry over proposals to demolish the building. The many groups and organizations that are involved in the debate surrounding the cathedral’s future differ in terms of the desired outcome, revealing a variety of social relationships between individuals and groups which are, in a sense, mediated by the building itself. Unravelling the history of the cathedral provides a framework for understanding its social significance for the city of Christchurch and how such a building has gained its status as a key or dominant symbol in the wake of the earthquakes.
Thus, this project will strive to document, analyse and explain the post-earthquake controversy surrounding the Christ Church Cathedral and its contents.
This study sits firmly within the purview of cultural and material anthropology but will need to draw on other disciplines to understand and explain the issues that emerged within this controversy.