A Ruin in Reverse / Bones of the Nation
To what degree can we interrogate a building? How much can it reveal? In the essays contained in this book, Ana María León examines two buildings whose construction and transformation reveal the political conflicts of Argentina’s modernity and coloniality. “A Ruin in Reverse,” focuses on the overlap of the long period of political instability that starts with Juan Perón’s exile, the political posturing and mysticism of Jorge Luis Borges, and the protracted construction of the National Library. The author examines how the construction of a building can reveal past lives, rendering itself as a ruin. In “Bones of the Nation,” the dehumanization and genocide of the Tehuelche is examined and contained within the Museum of La Plata, where Indigenous remains that were part of its permanent exhibition are still in the process of being identified and restituted to their kin. These essays use the history of these buildings to reflect on contemporary problems and to understand the formation of the imaginary of the Argentinian nation from the 19th century to the present.