Up Close and Personal: Feeling the Past at Urban Archaeological Sites

Tracy Ireland

Abstract


In this article I focus on the emotional, sensory and aesthetic affordances of urban archaeological remains conserved in situ and explore what these ruins ‘do’ in the context of the layered urban fabric of the city. I am concerned with a particular category of archaeological remains: those that illustrate the colonial history of settler nations, exploring examples in Sydney and Montreal. Using Sara Ahmed’s concept of ‘affective economies’ – where emotions work to stick things together and align individuals with communities – I tease out some of the distinctive aspects of this particular form of social/emotional/material entanglement, that appears to create stable objects of memory and identity from a much more contingent and complex matrix of politics, social structures, and the more-than-human materiality of the city. I argue that an understanding of the affective qualities of ruins and archaeological traces, and of how people feel heritage and the past through aesthetic and sensuous experiences of materiality, authenticity, locality and identity, bring us closer to understanding how heritage works. 


Keywords


Urban archaeology; in situ conservation; affective economies; heritage; memory; identity; materiality

Full Text:

PDF HTML

References


Alexander Etkind, Warped Mourning: Stories of the Undead in the land of the Unburied, Stanford University Press, Stanford California, 2013, p109.

Andreas Huyssen, 2010, 'Authentic Ruins: Products of Modernity' in Julia Hell and Andreas Schonle (eds) Ruins of Modernity, Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2010 pp17-28.

Anne Laura Stoler, 'Imperial Debris: Reflections on Ruins and Ruination', Cultural Anthropology 23 (2), 2008, p194. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1548-1360.2008.00007.x

Bruce G. Trigger, A History of Archaeological Thought. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1989.

Carole Blair, Greg Dickinson and Brian L. Ott, 'Introduction: Rhetoric/Memory/Place', in Greg Dickinson, Carole Blair and Brian L. Ott (eds), Places of Public Memory The Rhetoric of Museums and Memorials, The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, 2010, pp1-54. https://doi.org/10.1017/cbo9780511778766.002

Cornelius Holtorf, 'On Pastness: A reconsideration of materiality in archaeological object authenticity' Anthropological Quarterly, 86 (2) 2013, pp427-433. https://doi.org/10.1353/anq.2013.0026

Emma Hutchinson, Affective Communities in World Politics, Cambridge University Press, 2016, p102ff.

Gilles Lauzon and Madeleine Forget, Old Montreal History through Heritage, Les Publications du Quebec, Sainte-Foy Quebec, 2004, p277.

Gillian Rose and Divya P. Tolia-Kelly, 'Visuality/Materiality: Introducing a Manifesto for Practice', in Gillian Rose and Divya P. Tolia-Kelly (eds), Visuality/Materiality: Images, Objects and Practices, Ashgate, Surrey, 2012, pp1-12.

Godden Mackay Heritage Consultants and Grace Karskens, The Cumberland/Gloucester Streets Site, The Rocks, Archaeological Investigation Report, Godden Mackay Logan, Sydney, 1999.

Grace Karskens, Inside the Rocks: The Archaeology of a Neighbourhood, Hale and Iremonger, Sydney, 1999.

Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A political ecology of things, Duke University Press, Durham, 2010.

Kevin Hetherington, 'The Ruin Revisited' in Gillian Pye and Simone Schroth (eds) Trash Culture: Objects and Obsolescence in Cultural Perspective, Peter Lang, Oxford, New York, 2010, pp27-49.

Laurent Olivier, The dark abyss of time: Archaeology and Memory, translated by Arthur Greenspan, Altamira Press, Lanham, 2011.

Marc Boudreau (ed) Pointe-à-Callière, Experience the Past, Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History, Montreal, 1992.

Michael Herzfeld, 'Whatever happened to 'influence'?: The anxieties of memory', Archaeological Dialogues, vol 10, no 2, 2004, pp91-203.

Pierre Desrosiers, L'archéomuséologie: La recherche archéologique entre au musée, Presses de l'Université Laval, Quebec, Canada, 2011, p67.

Pierre Nora, 'Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire', Representations Special Issue: Memory and Counter Memory, vol 26, 1989, pp7-24. https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.1989.26.1.99p0274v

Régis Debray, Transmettre, Editions Odile Jacob, Paris, 1997, p110 cited in Desrosiers, op cit, p98.

Richard Handler, 'Authenticity', Anthropology Today 2, (1), 1986, pp.2-4. https://doi.org/10.2307/3032899

Richard Handler, Nationalism and the Politics of Culture in Quebec, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 1988.

Ruth M. van Dyke and Susan Alcock, 'Archaeologies of Memory: an introduction', in Ruth M. van Dyke and Susan Alcock (eds), Archaeologies of Memory, Blackwell, Oxford, 2003, pp1-14; p 6. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470774304.ch1

Sara Ahmed, 'Affective Economies', Social Text, vol 22, no 2, 2004, pp117-139. https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-22-2_79-117

Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2004, p196.

Shannon Lee Dawdy, 'Profane archaeology and the existential dialectics of the city', Journal of Social Archaeology, vol 16, no 1, 2015, p33.

Sian Jones, 'Negotiating Authentic Objects and Authentic Selves: Beyond the Deconstruction of Authenticity', Journal of Material Culture, vol 15, no 2, 2010, pp181-203. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359183510364074

The Big Dig Archaeological Site (Online), 2016. Available at: http://thebigdig.com.au/thebigdig/site/ (accessed 20 November 2016).

Tracy Ireland, 'Grounding Identity: exploring perceptions of urban archaeological sites in Australia and New Zealand', Historic Environment, vol 24, no 3, 2012, pp19-27.

Tracy Ireland, 'The ethics of visibility: archaeology, heritage and memories of settler colonialism', in Tracy Ireland and John Schofield (eds), The ethics of cultural heritage, Springer, New York, 2015, pp105-125.

Yannis Hamilakis, The Nation and its Ruins, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007, p.295.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5130/phrj.v23i0.5332