Reading Ruins against the Grain: Istanbul, Derbent, Postcoloniality

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The ruins of church-mosques, museums, and ancient cities inform material culture as allegories inform spiritual life, invoking forms of transcendence amidst the desacralised conditions of post-imperial modernities. Drawing on the work done by Benjamin, Jameson, and Koselleck to advance our understanding of the functioning of ruins in varying temporal contexts, this ethnography of ruins in the world after colonialism engages with the paradoxes generated by monuments in diverse urban spaces. Concentrating on the ethnographic sites of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul's Museum of Islamic Art, and the ancient city of Derbent in contemporary Daghestan, attention is drawn to the variability of the ruin as a site of political mobilisation across space and time and particularly in the service of a postcolonial agenda.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2012

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