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Vibrant: Virtual Brazilian Anthropology

On-line version ISSN 1809-4341

Abstract

GOYENA, Alberto. Architecture inside out: urban transformations through the perception of demolition engineers. Vibrant, Virtual Braz. Anthr. [online]. 2011, vol.8, n.2, pp. 580-608. ISSN 1809-4341.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1809-43412011000200028.

The present article is an ethnographic journey into the universe of techniques and rituals undertaken by companies geared to the demolition of architectural constructions. Viewed by many, more often than not, as merely brutal and even outrageous, the task of destroying is herein discussed in its material and symbolic complexity. Just as the act of building assumes a way of understanding and qualifying space in accordance with a set of social norms, the act of demolishing is, in and of itself, ruled by beliefs and cosmologies that vary a great deal from one context to the other. It will be suggested that the destroyer of walls and his sledgehammer may just as well unveil “history” and “heritage”, hidden in the midst of bricks, that even the most seasoned preservationist would not have even dreamt possible.

Keywords : urban memory; demolition; heritage; anthropology of architecture.

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