Reading Space, Society and History in Asia through its Ruins

Mona Chettri, Michael Eilenberg

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This special issue of the IIAS newsletter focuses on Ruins- the disintegration of recognizable forms- whether they be material, ideational or institutional as a portal into understanding the changing social and spatial dynamics in Asia. Inspired by Ann Stoler’s seminal work on ruins as ‘Imperial Debris’ (2013) this special issue looks at the ‘material and social afterlife of structures, sensibilities and things’. This special issue moves beyond the symbolic, affective nature of ruins to explore the social, political and environmental entanglements that produce these ruins and looks at their impacts on daily life, notions of belonging, history and identity. The special issue looks at different forms and impacts of ruins as well as the processes of ruination, the institutions, politics and people that produce ruins in intended and unintended ways. Ruins are everywhere, from urban decay, environmental degradation, in the construction and/or failure of infrastructural projects, political failures to distortion of histories and memories. However, ruins seldom remain dormant, often giving rise to new spatial and social conglomerations, new networks and infrastructure or creating yet another ruin. Ruins can prove especially contentious subjects, in terms of both the value that is accorded to them and the desire to reshape them by different groups of people, at different points of time. Thus, ruins can tell us as much about the past as they can of the present.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Institute for Asian Studies Newsletter - IIAS
Pages (from-to)28-40
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


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