Ruin Memories at upcoming Nordic Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG)

Þóra Pétursdóttir and Bjørnar Olsen of the Ruin Memories Team are organising a session for the upcoming Nordic TAG, hosted by Linnaeus University, Kalmar Sweden. Contributions to the session are now being accepted. Details are as follows:

Archaeologies of the recent past – aspects of generative ruination

Archaeology of the modern or contemporary world is a growing research interest within archaeology worldwide. Despite this remains of the modern regime, whether industrial ruins, abandoned rural homes or installations of World War II, are to many not proper subjects of archaeological research, and are mostly left out of other academic endeavour as well. Unlike the traditional romanticized ruin that so effortlessly acquires our appreciation, the installations of the modern are mostly left to oblivion. Partly this may be the result of the “modern order”, characterized by the ontological division between the social and the natural, human and non-human – past and present. Because, despite literally materializing “the modern era” the uncanny remains of the recent past – caught in the ongoing processes of destruction and ruinization – actually contradict our general conception of “modernity” (cf. Latour, 1993) – as matter out of place and order.

We suggest that re-membering the remains of the modern can be a fruitful task in generating theoretical considerations on the processes of (d)evaluation. As antonyms of the modern these remains can act as cultural critiques resisting conventional values and materially memorize alternative pasts of failure and rejection and thus literally manifest the significance of things and materiality in the construction of historical knowledge.

We welcome contributions exploring the recent past (both physically and in cultural discourse) and its evaluation in relation to historical processes, as well as in relation to conventional understandings (public as well as academic) of heritage, aesthetics and ruination. Moreover, as a subfield in rebellion to the general conception of archaeology, and traditional definitions of archaeological interest, archaeology of the contemporary past will unavoidably be interdisciplinary urging the use of different source material and research methods. In addition to the archaeological focus we would therefore like to involve contributors from a variety of disciplines including e.g. history, sociology, philosophy, architecture and photography.


Þóra Pétursdóttir
Bjørnar Olsen

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