The Project

Numerous studies have focused on modernity’s destructive effect on traditional life- worlds, the desertion of villages and the ruination of rural areas. However, the fact that the modern condition also produces its own ruined materialities, its own marginalized pasts, is less spoken about. Since the 19th century, mass-production, consumerism and thus cycles of material replacement have accelerated; increasingly larger amounts of things are increasingly rapidly victimized and made redundant. At the same time processes of destruction have immensely intensified, although largely overlooked when compared to the research and social significance devoted to consumption and production (González-Ruibal 2006, 2008). The outcome is a ruined landscape of derelict factories, closed shopping malls, overgrown bunkers and redundant mining towns; a ghostly world of decaying modern debris normally left out of academic concerns and conventional histories.

This ruin-landscape is the topic of the current research project. Based on selected case studies of industrial ruins, abandoned fishing villages and war remains in Norway, Russia, Iceland and Spain we want to explore how the ruins of modernity are conceived and assigned cultural value in contemporary academic and public discourses. Our research will cover three main themes: the aesthetics of waste and heritage, the materiality of memory, and the significance of things. Through these themes we want to develop theoretical arguments that help to understand why the derelict materiality of the modern to such an extent has been devalued and marginalized, but also to suggest possible means for reaffirming its cultural and historic significance. (Read the full Project Description)

The Ruins

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