chapter
12 Pages

Introduction

This book is an interdisciplinary account – with a solid cultural, geographical, archaeological and planning core – of vital aspects of the heritage discourse, such as ruins and monuments, in the present climate of cultural change. A sustained obsession with those tangible witnesses of the passage of time is one of the apparent contradictions of modernity since its remote Renaissance beginning. Fragmented and decrepit though they may be, ruins support and help consolidate our sense of identity and belonging in personal, civic, urban, national and even international terms. As bearers of memory, ruins represent certain ‘truth regimes’ that are constituted out of a combination of communal memories and spatio-temporal representations. This might cause us to think that such regimes exist in mutual and exclusive isolation. This is not so, however, because, as ethnographers and anthropologists are quick to point out, all symbolic and cultural creation is founded on shared representations or on cultural models constructed out of collective memories that are not spatially confined. An absolute relativity of global mnemonic ‘truth regimes’ is impossible, then, because of the long history of cultural contact and interactions that make for ‘translatability’ of meanings from culture to culture.1