Ruins, ruins everywhere: Chernobyl and an archaeological value of heritage of the recent past Cover Image

Ruiny, wszędzie ruiny: Czarnobyl i archeologiczny wymiar dziedzictwa niedawnej przeszłości
Ruins, ruins everywhere: Chernobyl and an archaeological value of heritage of the recent past

Author(s): Dawid Kobiałka
Subject(s): Economic history, Local History / Microhistory, Recent History (1900 till today)
Published by: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego
Keywords: Chernobyl; contemporary archaeology; heritage; ruins; materiality; memory

Summary/Abstract: For many centuries, scientists, philosophers, artists and others have been fascinated with ruins. However, this fascination usually focused upon ancient and medieval relics. Indeed, it can be metaphorically said that archaeology was built upon ruins. Nonetheless, the archaeological analyses of ruins, their functions, meanings, uses and re-uses over the next centuries had been very selective. In short, modern ruins have been out of closer archaeological attention. It seems as if modern ruins were deprived of social, cultural, and archaeological dimensions. However, this changed during the first decade of the 21st century when archaeologists started to pay attention to the modern ruins. The so-called archaeology of (modern) ruins is one of the most interesting, provocative, and subversive fields of the contemporary archaeological discourses. The starting point of this paper is that there is no “ontological difference” between the Greek, the Roman and the Soviet ruins. All of them can and should be part of archaeological thinking. A two-step approach is applied here. First, the archaeological value of ruins in Chernobyl is discussed. A documentary entitled Czarnobyl – Wstęp Wzbroniony (2015) (Eng. Chernobyl – No Entry) is reviewed to highlight the processes of transformation of the unimaginable nuclear catastrophe into valuable heritage of the recent past. It is argued that Chernobyl can be seen as “Pompeii of our times”. Second, the review of Czarnobyl – Wstęp Wzbroniony is used as a pretext to shortly present different categories of modern ruins that one can encounter in contemporary Poland. Many of them are related with the Soviet occupation in Poland between 1945 and 1993. The point that I try to back up in this paper is that these Soviet ruins are also part of the archaeological heritage of the recent past. Accordingly, this paper is a call for a closer archaeological interest in the ruins of the recent past in general.

  • Issue Year: 2017
  • Issue No: 32
  • Page Range: 365-384
  • Page Count: 20
  • Language: Polish