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Sticky Heritage

Sticky Heritage

by Bjørnar Olsen

In The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Karl Marx wrote that people make their own history, not as they please, “but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living”. The past, however, burdens more than the brains of the living. Through its accumulating material deposits it produces the very conditions under which we live and thus constantly inflicts on our most […]


Burström Releases Book: Treasured memories

Burström Releases Book: Treasured memories

Mats Burström: Treasured Memories. Tales of buried belongings in wartime Estonia. Lund, Nordic Academic Press (2012).

In the autumn of 1944, around 70,000 people fled Estonia in the face of the Red Army advance. Most of them believed the Soviet occupation would be shortlived and they would soon be able to return home, so many of them hid the most valuable of their belongings they were unable to carry, burying them in ‘safe’ places. Until Stalin’s death in 1953, Estonians continued […]


Back in Pyramiden, Svalbard

Back in Pyramiden, Svalbard

Text and photos by Elin Andreassen and Hein B. Bjerck

In August 2011, Elin and Hein revisited Pyramiden, this time as “protagonists” for the German TV production “Moderne Ruinen”[i]. We also had an agenda of our own: to see what was going on, and check rumors about Trust Arcticugol’s efforts to conserve buildings and facilitate the increasing numbers of visitors to the former Soviet company town some 90 km from their present stronghold in Barentsburg.

In 2006, we had stayed here with […]


Planning for the Unthinkable

Planning for the Unthinkable

by Mats Burström (with Alfredo González-Ruibal )

Frontispiece: Dining room. The blue colour on the wall is intended to imitate a blue sky. 

During the Cold War the fear for the unthinkable – a full-scale nuclear war – was a deeply felt reality. Accordingly, it was something the government and the authorities had to plan for. Sweden’s officially declared status as a neutral country made no exception in this regard; the geographical nearness to the Soviet Union was conceived as a very real military […]


The “Archaeology of Memory” at the Sorø Kuntsmuseum

The "Archaeology of Memory" at the Sorø Kuntsmuseum

The Archaeology of Memory is the first of three projected exhibitions about materiality. The other materiality exhibitions will be in 2013 (soil) and 2014 (immateriality). This first exhibition takes its point of departure in materiality understood as things and the ‘thingness’ of things. The tactile, sensuous qualities of things, and how things relate to our memory and our history. Things are not dead matter but play an active role in our lives, in learning and remembering. Things shape culture and […]


Ephemeral ruins, transient landscapes

Ephemeral ruins, transient landscapes

by Alfredo González-Ruibal and Manuel Sánchez-Elipe

We tend to think of ruins as something durable and solid. They are, in fact, defined as that which remains: a material core that is left after everything else has corroded, eroded and gone. Yet there are also ephemeral ruins, which are part of transient cultural landscapes. Consider the ruinous geographies that appear whenever large construction works are undertaken: buildings are torn down while others begin to rise from the ground, piles of brick, cables and […]


Mats Burström visiting scholar at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

Mats Burström visiting scholar at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

Ruin Memories member Mats Burström has been appointed as an Honorary Visiting Researcher at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. During the period September to November 2012 he will give several talks related to the archaeology of the recent past at La Trobe University, Flinders University (Adelaide), and Sydney University.
Starting on level one that features simple noun-verb sentences, students will learn how to diagram sentences by simply sliding different words in a sentence to proceed here for more areas on […]


Sværholt: Memories of a Northern War Site

Sværholt: Memories of a Northern War Site

by Bjørnar Olsen and Christopher Witmore

Sværholt is a cape set between the wide fjords of Porsanger and Laksefjord in the northernmost Norwegian region of Finnmark (Figure 1).  The cape exhibits the characteristic topography of this northern coastline: a flat barren summit that from its northern edge plunges suddenly and steeply into the sea. On the southern side, the cape descends more or less evenly into a low isthmus connecting the cape with the main Sværholt peninsula. At either end of this […]


Berkeley Pit, Butte Montana

Berkeley Pit, Butte Montana

by Tim LeCain

High in the northern Rocky Mountains, at the headwaters of the Colombia River basin, the giant Berkely Pit copper mine marks one end of America’s largest government mandated toxic waste clean-up site. For almost three decades, the Anaconda Corporation blasted millions of tons of low-grade copper ore out of the pit, until the company decided to shut the operation down in 1982. Since then, the pit has been steadily filling with groundwater that is nearly as acidic as […]


Program for 3rd Ruin Memories Workshop Falmouth, Nov. 18-19, 2011

Program for 3rd Ruin Memories Workshop Falmouth, Nov. 18-19, 2011

3RD RUIN MEMORIES WORKSHOP FALMOUTH NOV 18-19, 2011

St Michael’s Hotel & Spa, Falmouth

Thursday Nov 17

Checking in, etc

20.00 Dinner at Gylly Beach

Friday Nov 18

09.30 – 10.00 Introduction

10.00 -10.45 Gavin Lucas: Mobile Homes – ruination and the mobility of things

10.45 -11.30 Þóra Pétursdóttir: Things on the move and moments of intervention: A glimpse of the summer’s excavations at Eyri, Iceland

11.30 -11.45 Coffee/tea break

11.45 -12.30 Elin Andreassen/Hein Bjerck: Yuri’s Gym and Wall-E – Thrills and Troubles of the Abandoned […]


Mats Burström and Ruin Memories at CHAT Boston

Mats Burström and Ruin Memories at CHAT Boston

Mats Burström will be representing the Ruin Memories project at the upcoming CHAT (Contemporary and Historical Archaeology in Theory) conference at Boston University, Boston, MA. The general theme for the conference is ‘People and things in motion’ and it takes place November 11-13, 2011.

The full program of CHAT 2011 is available from their website here.

Mats Burström will give a talk titled ‘Artifactual Memories in Exile: Family Belongings Hidden in the Ground in Estonia during the Second World War’.

Figure: Set […]


Ruins-in-the-making: Viðey in the bay of Reykjavík, Iceland

Ruins-in-the-making: Viðey in the bay of Reykjavík, Iceland

by Gavin Lucas

This June, Gavin Lucas with Elín Hreiðarsdóttir and Gísli Pálsson conducted a short fieldwork season at the abandoned industrial village on the island of Viðey in the bay of Reykjavík, Iceland. The aim of the fieldwork was to map the ruins and recover small samples of material assemblages associated with the settlement. Preliminary coring identified middens where 5 trenches were subsequently excavated to retrieve material.

The village was founded in 1907 and lasted less than half a century; begun […]


Þóra Pétursdóttir and Ruin Memories at TAG Berkeley

Þóra Pétursdóttir and Ruin Memories at TAG Berkeley

Þóra Pétursdóttir will be representing the Ruin Memories project at the upcoming Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) in Berkeley, California. She will be taking part in a session entitled “Open Dialogues in Archaeological Photography”. The session abstract is as follows:

In a discipline that has yet to master the balance between the subject and the object; the human and the thing, photographs can inhabit uniquely limbic and potentially very powerful positions. Photographs provide a tangible middle ground between the observing […]


Mats Burström lectures in Tallinn and Tartu, Estonia

Mats Burström lectures in Tallinn and Tartu, Estonia

Image: Metal detecting in search for objects hidden in Estonia by people fleeing from the Soviet occupation in 1944.

Mats Burström will give a Introductory Lecture into the Archaeology of the Recent Past at the Theoretical Seminar “Landscape, Things and Theories” arranged by the Centre of Excellence in Culture Theory at Tallinn University September 14th.

The full program is available from their website.

The following day, September 15th, Mats Burström will give a lecture, “Artefactual Memories. Family Belongings Hidden in the Ground in […]


Building 500

Building 500

by Timothy Webmoor

Ever since the early antiquarians traipsed across the European countryside and less than gingerly applied their picks, spades and shovels to any number of large prehistoric barrows, the locus of where archaeologists apply their trade has been a rigidly defined space separate from that of their own daily lives. In the 1970’s this separation was opened to debate, contestation and redefinition. Lines were redrawn in the work of Bill Rathje and other Schiffer disciples. In tandem with Binfordite […]


My Father’s Things

My Father's Things

by Hein B. Bjerck, Museum of Archaeology and Natural History, NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Trondheim, Norway

“My Fathers Things” is an example of how the RuinMemory issues apply to an individual level of our relation to the recent past.

In the morning of April 5 2009 my father died, almost 86 years old. He lived alone, was in good health, and died suddenly. I suspect that he never knew what happened, and that he probably left life with […]


Demolishing an “Emotional Landmark” in Trondheim, Norway

Demolishing an “Emotional Landmark” in Trondheim, Norway

by Elin Andreassen (photo) and Hein B. Bjerck (text)

As part of the on-going modernization of the St. Olav’s Hospital, the High-house (Høyblokka), the initial core of the hospital is being demolished. The hospital has expanded around its old capital building, and a green lung is planned at the site. The tooth of time, and new demands in the wake of the ever changing ideals, demands and regulations of a how a hospital should be, have rendered Høyblokka dysfunctional.

Normally, the Trondheim […]


Next Ruin Memories Workshop November 18-19, Falmouth, Cornwall, UK

Next Ruin Memories Workshop November 18-19, Falmouth, Cornwall, UK

The next Ruin Memories workshop will be arranged in Falmouth, Cornwall, at the St. Michaels hotel, on November 18-19 (Friday to Saturday). The workshop takes place on November 18 and 19 (Fri-Sat), and you need to arrive Thursday (17th) to Falmouth. There will be an excursion Sunday 20, those who can’t take part may leave then – the others return Monday (you may of course stay as long as you like at your own expenses!). To get there it is most convenient […]


Heinrich Natho and an archaeology of the northern periphery of war

Heinrich Natho and an archaeology of the northern periphery of war

At the northern periphery of war: An archaeology of Second World War sites in northern Finnmark, Norway.

The intensity of the impact of the Second World War on the landscape of Finnmark, the most northern county of Norway, is unique in Europe. When it became clear in autumn 1944 that the advance of the Russian army was unstoppable, Hitler decided to withdraw and raze to the ground an area bigger than Switzerland. What were left were a few villages and some […]


Mats Burström joins the Ruin Memories project

Mats Burström joins the Ruin Memories project

Mats Burström joins the Ruin Memories project.

Mats is professor in archaeology at Stockholm University, Sweden. He has written a number of papers and books on contemporary archaeology. He will be working on two research projects:

“Artefactual Memories. Family Belongings Hidden in the Ground in Estonia during World War II;”

“Bückeberg: The Life History of the Site for the 3rd Reich Harvest Festival” (in co-operation with Bernhard Gelderblom)

Kudos to readdle for a great update to an singular source […]


In Action in Iceland. The Ruin Memories Team Explores Four Sites.

In Action in Iceland. The Ruin Memories Team Explores Four Sites.

The Ruin Memories team gathered recently in Reykjavík, Iceland for an intensive two-day workshop.

After the memorable and tremendously successful event, the team took a field trip to explore four sites around Iceland. As the day unfolded two themes emerged through their engagement with the sites: The evidence of attraction (to ruined places and things); the attraction of evidence (that may disclose overlooked or obscured material histories). The following photographic vignettes explore these themes. Photos by Caitlin Desilvey

The British military […]


Program Ruin Memories workshop, Reykjavik, Iceland, November 19-20

Program Ruin Memories workshop, Reykjavik, Iceland, November 19-20

Friday, November 19

Venue: Hótel Saga, conference room Stanford II

09.00-09.30: Welcome and introduction: Gavin Lucas, Institute of Archaeology/University of Iceland and Bjørnar Olsen, Institute of Archaeology and Social Anthropology, University of Tromsø

09.30-10.30: Tim Edensor, Department of Geography, Manchester Metropolitan University: “The Allure of Ruins in the 21st Century: Multiple Practices and Approaches”

10.30-10.45 Coffee/tea break

10.45-11.45 Ewa Domanska, Department of History, Adam Mickiewicz University at Poznan: “Ruins, assemblages and the new materialism”

11.45-12.45 Gavin Lucas, Institute of Archaeology/University of Iceland, Reykjavik: “Fast Ruins. Nature […]


Ruin Memories at upcoming Nordic Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG)

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 […]


2nd Ruin Memories Workshop to be held in Reykjavik, November 19-20

2nd Ruin Memories Workshop to be held in Reykjavik, November 19-20

The 2nd Ruin Memories workshop will be held in Reykjavik on November 19-20. More details to follow – contact Bjørnar Olsen (bjornar.olsen@uit.no) for more information.
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