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Curated Decay: Heritage Beyond Saving by Caitlin DeSilvey
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94 Leonardo Reviews To return to the issue of disciplinarity , Ethan Watrall’s “Archaeology , the Digital Humanities and the ‘Big Tent’ ” is particularly telling. Watrall points out that archaeological research projects provide solid models for DH projects. However, he highlights a manifest disconnect between archaeology and the digital humanities and concludes that the archaeologists “will be forever outside the ‘big tent’ ” unless there is a “hello, nice to meet you” moment (p. 355). Might one not logically then ask the question—why does archaeology, especially public archaeology, need DH at all? And what then are the consequences to the future of DH considering the mantra of interdisciplinary salvation? Having been at the University of North Texas DH conference in September 2014 where Miriam Posner presented her chapter (published in this volume as “Here and There: Creating DH Community”), I was particularly struck by the vitality of the local public history projects presented in that context and of the THAT camp phenomenon. In that established context, Sheila Brennan’s chapter, “Public, First,” and Cameron Blevins’ essay, “Digital History’s Perpetual Future,” will be essential resources for the public DH community . Keeping in mind such applied projects, quo vadis then for DH as a revolutionary interdisciplinary movement? Whatever developments take place that will constitute the content and character of the next editions of Debates in the Digital Humanities, one would hope that the editors will do one thing: include that elemental predigital search function—an index. In either event, the preponderance of the citation of digital sources in this book and those that will follow provides effective entry points into the evolving networked DH archive. References and Notes   1 See Rosalind Krauss, “Sculpture in the Expanded Field,” October 8 (Spring 1979), 30–44.   2 See William Pannapacker, “Stop Calling it ‘Digital Humanities,’ ” Chronicle of Higher Education, 18 February 2013, ; and Alan Liu, “Where Is Cultural Criticism in the Digital Humanities?” in Matthew K. Gold, ed., Debates in the Digital Humanities (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012) pp. 490–509: .   3 See Steven E. Jones, “The Emergence of the Digital Humanities (as the Network is Everting),” pp. 3–15; William Gibson, Spook Country (New York: Putnam, 2007) p. 20.   4 See Bronac Ferran, ed., Visualise: Making Art in Context, (Cambridge: Anglia Ruskin University, 2013). For an extended version of the Leonardo review , see . CURATED DECAY: HERITAGE BEYOND SAVING by Caitlin DeSilvey. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN, U.S.A., 2017. 240 pp., illus. Trade, paper. ISBN: 978-0-8166-9436-5; ISBN: 978-0-8166-9438-9. Reviewed by Jan Baetens. Email: . doi:10.1162/LEON_r_01563 Poetry plays an important role in this book on post-preservationist, posthumanist heritage, and while reading it, I could not stop thinking of this stanza from Rilke’s 8th Duino Elegy: And we: always and everywhere spectators, turned toward the stuff of our lives, and never outward. It all spills over us. We put it to order. It falls apart. We order it again and fall apart ourselves. This fragment (and it is important that it is a fragment, not a complete poem) poignantly summarizes the very failure of the preservationist and humanist paradigm: the impossibility of giving a lasting form to what is going away as well as the refusal to accept the vanishing of “the stuff of our lives.” DeSilvey’s starting point in Curated Decay is the growing awareness of the limits—she does not say failure, for the tone of the book is not polemical at all–—of the traditional humanist preservationist ideal still dominant in Euro-American heritage policy and, more generally, in the Western relationship with the past. On the one hand, it becomes clear that preservation is becoming more and more difficult, from a material as well as a financial point of view: There are simply too many buildings and built environments to be protected , restored and managed (and their number is increasing daily), and the costs of such operations are so high that people inevitably have to make choices—painful choices, since in the humanist preservationist paradigm the loss of a thing—be it an object or a building—is experienced as the loss of one’s own...


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