7138 - Urban farewells : cultural heritage under the perspective of demolition companies

However paradoxical it may seem, my interest in techniques and rituals of architectural demolition is an outgrowth of studies on cultural heritage, memory and forms of collecting. I here assume that it could be useful, when thinking about the concept of "heritage", to bring to the center of the debate the idea of "demolition". Therefore, I seek to present in this paper some considerations of an anthropological research on architectural structures that, for some reason or the other, had to be turned into rubble.  

My starting point has been to examine and to describe the means and processes by with architectural structures are destroyed. A research has therefore been conducted in an ethnographical way among two Brazilian demolition and implosion companies. Those preliminary results have subsequently been compared and contrasted to other techniques and rituals that take place among the so called “non western societies”.  

Though very frequently as merely brutal, the task of destroying is here explored in its material and symbolic complexity. In the same way that the act of building supposes a specific form of understanding and qualifying space, according to a set of social norms, the act of destroying is also lined by beliefs and cosmologies that vary a great deal from a context to the other. In this sense, one is lead to understand that it is certainly not always true that material survival and destruction are opposite actions that would necessarily lead, respectively, to memory or oblivion. Intrinsically linked as they seem to be, building, preserving and destroying are categories that will here be discussed under the usually relegated perspective of demolition groups and companies. By doing so, I somewhat hope to raise important questions about the universalizing pattern through which national and international heritage policies are carried out.

Palabras claves: demolition, memory, cultural heritage

Autores: Goyena, Alberto (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / Brasilien)


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