This collection of newly published essays examines our relationship to physical objects that invoke, commemorate, and honor the past. The recent destruction of cultural heritage in war and controversies over Civil War monuments in the US have foregrounded the importance of artifacts that embody history. The book invites us to ask: How do memorials convey their meanings? What is our responsibility for the preservation or reconstruction of historically significant structures? How should we respond when the public display of a monument divides a community? This anthology includes coverage of the destruction of Palmyra and the Bamiyan Buddhas, the loss of cultural heritage through war and natural disasters, the explosive controversies surrounding Confederate-era monuments, and the decay of industry in the U.S. Rust Belt. The authors consider issues of preservation and reconstruction, the nature of ruins, the aesthetic and ethical values of memorials, and the relationship of cultural memory to material artifacts that remain from the past. Written by a leading group of philosophers, art historians, and archeologists, the 23 chapters cover monuments and memorials from Dubai to Detroit, from the instant destruction of Hiroshima to the gradual sinking of Venice.

part 1|73 pages

Honoring and Mourning

chapter 1|12 pages

Life and Death in Rock

A Meditation on Stone Memorials

chapter 2|13 pages

How Memorials Speak to Us

chapter 4|12 pages

The Proper Object of Emotion

Memorial Art, Grief, Remembrance

chapter 5|10 pages

Churches as Memory Machines

chapter 6|13 pages

More Than Bare Bones

The Artistry and Ethics of Ossuaries

part 2|106 pages

Ruins Past and Present

chapter 8|13 pages

On the Road to Ruin

Anticipating and Appreciating the Natural Degradation of Human Constructions

chapter 10|12 pages

Rust Belt Ruins

chapter 11|14 pages


chapter 12|10 pages

Layers in London

How Buildings Remember

chapter 13|9 pages

From Haunted Ruin to Touristified City

An Aesthetic History of Venice

part 3|104 pages

Conflict, Destruction, and the Aftermath

chapter 18|13 pages

Bamiyan’s Echo

Sounding Out the Emptiness

chapter 19|13 pages

The Ruins of War

chapter 22|13 pages

For the Union Dead

Memorial Hall at Harvard University and the Exclusion of the Confederate Fallen

chapter 23|16 pages

Ruins and Debris

Cultural Heritage Practice, Resource Management, and Archaeology