The Memory Works: Between Monuments and Ruins, The Case of Contemporary Budapest
This review article argues that Benjamin’s project to construct a political explanation of the surrounding cultural world in developed capitalist societies, raised to a source of knowledge about the historical truth, finds an unmatched case of study in the contemporary ruinous urban nature of Budapest. Departing from the park of statues Memento Park, some urban features of the city are examined in the light of Benjamin’s semantics of the fragment to try to answer whether these thoughts apply to the discarded material world of our time. Could the already-there in Budapest provide a motivational basis for a reconstruction of the surrounding material world from the fragments of the past? The local phenomenon of romkocsma is addressed to wonder whether re-use of ruins could house this emancipatory potential or serve the interests of the hegemonic groups and the contemporary dominant discourse.
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