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CIAMS Lecture Series: Alfredo González-Ruibal

September 29th 2022, 4:30 - 6:00 

Wherein McGraw 215

Abstract: People that have experienced dictatorship often refer to the silence that shaped their lives. Silence takes many forms: the criminalization of political dissent, the inability to speak up one’s mind, the denial of the right to memory or historical identity or the prohibition to mourn. Even in postdictatorial regimes, speech cannot be taken for granted. Many people are so traumatized that they refuse to talk about the past, which makes overcoming trauma more difficult. In this talk I will be talking about the relationship between silence and things. Things are mute, but they have an enormous potential to disclose a repressed past and expose individual and collective traumas. Paradoxically, this power lies in their muteness: a silence defies silence. I will be using examples mainly from my own work in Spain to show the potential of archaeology to reveal the true nature of dictatorial regimes and deconstruct their discourses, but also the ethical and rhetorical challenges that it faces while trying to do so. 

Biography: Alfredo González-Ruibal is a senior researcher with the Institute of Heritage Sciences of the Spanish National Research Council. His research focuses on the archaeology of the contemporary past and African archaeology. He is particularly interested in the dark side of modernity, including conflict, dictatorship, colonialism and predatory capitalism. He has conducted work for many years on the archaeological remains of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship (1936-1975). His other main area of research is the Horn of Africa, where he has carried out archaeological and ethnographic work with indigenous minorities, exploring resistance, temporality and relations between state and stateless societies in Ethiopia, Somaliland and, more recently, Djibouti. His books include An archaeology of the contemporary era (Routledge, 2019) and The archaeology of the Spanish Civil War (Routledge, 2020). He is managing editor of the Journal of Contemporary Archaeology and associate editor of World Archaeology.

 

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