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The Present is the Future of the Past
November 5, 2006 9:40 AM   Subscribe

The Perfume of Garbage: an archaeology of the world trade centers (pdf). What do the the godfather of garbology, a leading post-modern archaeological theorist (blog), and a "space archaeologist"(cf. space junk) think about the WTC? Obviously as a ruin and as an archaeological site - but much more. An intriguing analysis placing the WTC ruins into archaeological context, and, most particularly, responding to the Smithsonian's exhibition of artifacts from the events of September 11, 2001. Also, a commentary (pdf) responding to garbage, space and the WTC. And yes, garbology goes well beyond Mick Jagger ephemera.
posted by Rumple (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Neat! I've found Rathje and garbology fascinating since my first intro to archaeology class. But the pdf links aren't working for me.
posted by carmen at 10:34 AM on November 5, 2006

They (the PDG links) seem to work fine for me. The first one piqued my interest, and really should be described as encompassing much more than the WTC, in fact it could almost stand alone. The most interesting part to me is nearer the end of the document, where he describes our aversion to garbage, and the recency of the phenomenon. It's funny how Colonial Williamsburg is used as an example.... our 'historic village' is actually a rewriting of history, since if it existed today as it actually did back when, it would be closed as a health and safety violation.
posted by pjern at 10:44 AM on November 5, 2006

* PDF links.
posted by pjern at 10:46 AM on November 5, 2006

"Kipple-ized," indeed, my apartment has become kipple-ized.
posted by taosbat at 11:23 AM on November 5, 2006

That Garbagology webpage is full of spelling errors
posted by A189Nut at 11:33 AM on November 5, 2006

And sometimes garbage is the memorial, or vice versa.

Solipsist: thats a good point. "Garbage" itself is a social construct, or is defined contingently. This goes beyond simple cultural norms. Economists consider differing thresholds of marginal value (use-value) to explain the cars-on-blocks in poor neighbourhoods. And at least one Anthropologist argues that the apparent disorderliness of many houses on the Rez is a very long standing cultural practice that amounts to keeping spare parts handy. Indeed, many aboriginal folks/groups hoard "junk" but will give away quite valuable items at the drop of a hat: bot coping mechanisms building social capital and a security net of potentially useful material culture. Without attempting to understand the role of "stuff" in peoples' lives it is really easy to misinterpret a strategy for survival as a symptom of moral decay.
posted by Rumple at 12:24 PM on November 5, 2006

It's also time dependent. If the habit involved dragging dead animals back to the cave 5000 years ago, the hoarders may have been the ones who attracted the mates and survived the winters. We may need this skill yet.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:34 PM on November 5, 2006

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