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The Lives of ObjectsMaterial Culture, Experience, and the Real in the History of Early Christianity$
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Maia Kotrosits

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226707440

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226707617.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 24 September 2021

Citizens of Fallen Cities

Citizens of Fallen Cities

Ruins, Diaspora, and the Material Unconscious

(p.42) 2 Citizens of Fallen Cities
The Lives of Objects

Maia Kotrosits

University of Chicago Press

Beginning with the rise and fall narratives that dominate ancient and contemporary imaginations, this chapter reads ruins as a material social agent—as vital actors in social life—and as signs and symptoms of processes of imperial ruination. It uses the representation of Babylon in ancient Jewish and Christian literature, a city both responsible for ruination and itself ruined, to illustrate the ways imperial sovereignty and diasporic collectives materialize in and through ruins. But ruins are also where the personal meets the monumental: they express in a dramatic way the psycho-social experience of human breakdown. So this chapter addresses places in which colonized bodies merge with their ruined landscape, exploring resonances between Aimé Césaire and the Hebrew bible figure of Daniel, and analyzing ancient representations of the ruined Jesus as a figure for colonial wreckage. It draws from the archaeological remains buried under Roman Corinth as they haunt the apostle Paul’s letters to the Corinthians in order to read ruins and other physical layers of history as a kind of “material unconscious.”

Keywords:   ruins, Book of Revelation, Babylon, Book of Daniel, Paul, Corinth, Colonialism, Pausanius, Aelius Aristides, Asklepios

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