The Destruction of Memory

The Destruction of Memory : Architecture at War

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In times of conflict, buildings are inevitably damaged or destroyed. But there has always been another war against architecture: the destruction of the built artefacts of a people or nation as a means of cultural cleansing or division. In this war, architecture takes on a totemic quality: a mosque is not simply a mosque but represents the presence of a community. A library or an art gallery is a cache of cultural memory ? evidence of the reality of that community?s history that extends and legitimizes it in the present. Even office buildings may acquire powerful symbolic value: this was brought home with singular force by the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York. In The Destruction of Memory, Robert Bevan examines both the effects of conflict on architecture over the last century and also examples throughout history: from the conflict between Islam and Hinduism in India and the razing of Aztec cities by Cortez to the Holocaust and the Chinese destruction of Tibetan Lhasa. A notable example from more recent times is the terrorist activities in the former Yugoslavia. Incidents discussed include the bombing of Dubrovnik; the destruction of the iconic bridge at Mostar; and the blackened leaves of priceless books floating down over Sarajevo after the National Library was shelled. Robert Bevan argues that these were not ?collateral damage?, as some might claim: they were deliberate acts of destruction, an attack not only on the architecture, but also the cultural memory of a nation.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 240 pages
  • 162 x 234 x 24mm | 680.4g
  • Reaktion Books
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 80 b&w illustrations
  • 1861892055
  • 9781861892058
  • 2,064,120

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Review quote

"The ways in which memory inheres in all parts of the built environment is expressed clearly and this is an absorbing, sobering and scholarly book."--Leslie Sklair"Political Studies Review" (05/01/2007)

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About Robert Bevan

Robert Bevan is the former editor of "Building Design" and writes regularly on architectural, design, and housing issues for national newspapers. He lives in Sydney, Australia.

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