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Deposit“Reading Ruins Against the Grain: Istanbul, Derbent, Postcoloniality,” Culture, Theory, & Critique (2012)

The ruins of church-mosques, museums, and ancient cities inform material culture as allegories inform spiritual life, invoking transcendence amidst desacralization. Drawing on Benjamin, Jameson, and Koselleck to advance our understanding of the functioning of ruins across time, this ethnography of ruins engages with the paradoxes generated by monuments in diverse urban spaces. Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia and Museum of Islamic Art, and the ancient city of Derbent (contemporary Daghestan), foreground the ruin as a site of political life across space and time. By revealing the persistence of the past in the present, ruins, it is argued, reimagine colonial modernity.