Imperial Debris: Reflections on ruin and ruination

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Contributed date

December 12, 2018 - 1:57pm

Critical Commentary

Ann Laura Stolers framing of a latter day understanding of ruins and ruination. Here, she engages the ambivalence of the term throught the works of Fanon and Benjamin, unfurling the terms active and passive, its materials and psychic effects. 

"Ruination is an act perpetrated, a condition to which one is subject, and a cause of loss. These three senses may overlap in effect but they are not the same. Each has its own temporality. Each identifies different durations and moments of exposure to a range of violences and degradations that may be immediate or delayed, subcutaneous or visible, prolonged or instant, diffuse or direct."

It is a testament to the power of working with the festooned state of overlapping embodiments of debris, loss, and sense of subjunctive reclamation and more.


STOLER, A. L. (2008), IMPERIAL DEBRIS: Reflections on Ruins and Ruination. Cultural Anthropology, 23: 191-219. doi:10.1111/j.1548-1360.2008.00007.x

Cite as

Ann Laura Stoler, "Imperial Debris: Reflections on ruin and ruination", contributed by Andrew McGrath and Andrew McGrath, Center for Ethnography, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 12 December 2018, accessed 5 May 2021.