The Art of Destruction

Aod - Poster

This is a call for papers – of sorts. With fellow Aarhus PhD students Tim (Flohr Sørensen) and Mads (Dengsø Jessen), I’m organizing a seminar and PhD course entitled “The Art of Destruction: Phenomenology, Fragmentation and Material Culture” in Aarhus, 6-7 December 2007. The seminar is generously funded by the Danish PhD School in Archaeology, which puts some limitations on the format. What this boils down to is that if you’re a PhD student and interested in attending, please contact me or one of the other organizers before applying. Funding for PhD students based in Denmark and Scandinavia has been secured on our end.

The overall scope of the seminar is to investigate and discuss in what way the experience of fragmentation and destruction of material phenomena – e.g. objects, architecture, animals, plants, human beings, and places – influence people’s actions and understanding of the world. We may observe a widespread tendency across many different disciplines to study things in their state of becoming and as products. The aim of the seminar is to supplement this tendency with a perspective from the dissolution of the material world, and thus focus on the role of destruction and fragmentation of material culture. Why are things destroyed and what does fragmentation consist of and mean? How do people understand and react to the desolation and dissolution of places? What does the destruction of human beings do to the understanding of the self, power and identity? Such topics are addressed at the seminar, which encourages interdisciplinary approaches and welcomes examples from the past as well as the present.

Four keynote speakers have been invited to participate in the seminar. We are happy to be able to introduce Professor Ian Armit from the University of Bradford, UK, Reader John Chapman from the University of Durham, UK, Reader Tim Edensor from Manchester Metropolitan University, UK and Post doc Adam Gutteridge from the University of Aarhus, Denmark.

The seminar is open to PhD researchers with an interest in the outline of the seminar. The seminar aims at a truly interdisciplinary mixture of participants, inviting such different disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, art history, geography, history, literature, philosophy, psychology, religious studies and

Some practicalities:

Location: University of Aarhus, Denmark
Date: December 6th – 7th 2007
Organisers: Mads Dengsø Jessen, Troels Myrup Kristensen and Tim Flohr Sørensen at the Institute of Anthropology, Archaeology, and Linguistics on behalf of the Danish PhD School in Archaeology
Deadline: Apply by submitting the title of the proposed presentation and a half-page abstract by email to by October 9th 2007.

Join the conversation


  1. The design for the poster was lifted from “The Course of Empire: Destruction” (1836) by Thomas Cole.

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