Ruins: The Architecture of Selective Memory


Project Description


Dolores Hayden

Ruins play a crucial role in the development of cultural identity and narrative.  When ruins are preserved, they act as architectural historical records.  When ruins are destroyed, the cultural diversity and historical narratives they record are destroyed alongside them.  While the aesthetic appreciation of American ruins is visible in the profusion of websites, publications, and exhibitions dedicated to photographing Detroit and other cities, the social and spatial implications of the destruction or preservation of these ruins requires further exploration.

Though the history of settlement in contemporary America extends as far back as that of other nations, there has been relatively little study of the ruins resulting from the decline of its ancient settlements.  The ruins of early indigenous populations of the United States such as those found at Mesa Verde or Cahokia are few in number when compared to the vast number of ruins found in other countries.  Through case studies in Turkey, Greece, Italy, Cambodia, and America, my independent study aims to put American ruins in a larger global context with a longer history of appreciation and preservation of ruins.