In early May, Gastón Gordillo received me at the University of British Columbia, which allowed us to talk about his upcoming book, Rubble: The Afterlife of Destruction, as well as the essay “Nazi Architecture as Affective Weapon” written for The Funambulist Papers series. We talk about the politics of ruins from Albert Speer’s plans for Third Reich Berlin that was meant to generate glorious ruins to the different types of ruins that exist at the foot of the Andes in North Argentina. There, in contrast to the attitude by local authorities, local people do not view ruins as historic relics that should to be preserved but as rubble that evokes the destruction and violence the created the regional geography. We also talk about the production of ruins in the context of proletarian revolution like the 1871 Paris Commune versus the destruction to the very last stone of the Palestinian villages on Israeli territory after the Nakba (1948). Rubble is political for the narrative it tells of its past existence as well as the means of its destruction/production.
Gastón Gordillo is Professor of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he graduated from the University of Buenos Aires before conducting his PhD at the University of Toronto. He has conducted ethnographic research in several areas of northern Argentina on the relationship between space, history, subjectivity, violence, and memory since 1987. A Guggenheim Scholar, he is the author of several books, including Rubble: The Afterlife of Destruction (2014, Duke University Press), Landscapes of Devils: Tensions of Place and Memory in the Argentinean Chaco (2004, Duke University Press, Winner of the American Ethnological Society Sharon Stephens Book Prize), and En el Gran Chaco: Antropologías e historias (2006, Prometeo). He blogs at Space and Politics.