When archaeologists work to preserve a monument, a values-based system is employed to determine what is worth preserving and what will be destroyed in the process of allocating monuments as abandoned "ruins." To think of "ruin" as a noun emphasizes the artifacts of empire as passive remnants of a defunct regime, effectively implying that imperial governance is over. To focus on processes of ruination, however, allows us to trace the lingering effects of empire, what people are left with—or without. This essay proposes to shift the reader's gaze away from the "ruins" of monument and toward processes of ruination that produce a category of remnants that has largely slipped the attention of scholarship and has remained absent from imperial archives—rubble. Unlike the "ruins" of monument, the "rubble" of monument is formless, bearing no trace of its original creation. Examples in the history of archaeological restorations point to a consistent pattern in the management of rubble, where it's obliterated rather than preserved, documented, or archived. This pattern has yet to be addressed as more monuments face processes of ruination beyond just archaeology: economic, natural, terrorist. This essay seeks to unpack the implications of obliterating the "rubble" of monuments on the process of historical production, and to argue for novel management and the potential afterlife of rubble. It concludes by hypothesizing the archivization, as opposed to the museumization, of rubble to reframe this historically marginalized, formless material as an agent of ruination that can open history up for reexamination and can democratize the storage, retrieval, production, and indexing of new forms of knowledge.


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pp. 32-45
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