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Haunting pasts, future utopias: an anthropology of ruins I 
Valentina Gamberi (Research Centre for Material Culture)
Chiara Calzana (University of Turin)
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Francisco Martínez (Tampere University)
Music Building (MUS), Lecture Room 101
Tuesday 26 July, -
Time zone: Europe/London

Short Abstract:

This panel welcomes papers dealing with heritage practices in post-disaster areas. It reflects on how the material traces of ruins and natural and historical tragedies continue to play a role in the present and metamorphose in future hopes, engagements, and utopias.

Long Abstract:

What if anthropologists let ruins speak? With the critical analysis of "Southern" epistemologies by de Sousa Santos (2014) and a historical-material approach to the so-called "difficult heritage" (Macdonald 2008), there is a growing interest in the anthropological potential of ruins and post-disaster contexts. Ruins and traces of natural and historical tragedies are lost pasts shipwrecked in the present with their material trace that will continue to transform in future hopes, engagements and utopias. They embody a past haunting current practice, posing ethical dilemmas on their present and future usages by the social actors and collectivities that enter into contact with them. Ruins open a dialogical space between institutional politics of memory as well as grassroots claims on the past that can work in synergy or, conversely, in conflict with each other. At the same time, ruined material crafts imaginaries and affective orientations (Ahmed 2004) towards traumatic memories for then transforming the latter's scars into building materials for a future, collective res-publica. Not only are ruins material remaining, but they are also resistant, counter-hegemonic thoughts to venture the future otherwise.

This panel sets out to reflect on the sustainability of post-traumatic memories and what is lost with the vanishing materiality of difficult pasts. It reflects on possible ways to think ruins and difficult traces of the past beyond the Western-centric categories of the abject and the residual in favor of a resilient and counter-hegemonic perspective in which ruined worlds can be generative of something new (DeSilvey 2017; Martínez 2018).

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -