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Activating Ruins and Performing Power in Colonial Carthage

Episode 184 Activating Ruins and Performing Power in Colonial Carthage In the decades leading up to, and during, the French Protectorate (1881–1956), the excavation of ruins became a critical component of a colonialist modernizing practice that saw North Africa’s ancient imperial and early Christian pasts as tangible justification for European dominance. Sites were not only unearthed, but their ruins were consolidated, restored, activated, and fabricated as backdrops for highly staged and politically significant events, and thus the enactment of France’s “civilizing mission.” This conversation considers several case studies that illustrate the exploitation of ruins in the operation of the colonialist imagination and power relationships. Based on archival and on-site research, it explores the use of Carthage’s Roman theatre by the Carthage Institute for a series of drama festivals in the early 1900s, as well as the Catholic Church’s 1930 International Eucharistic Congress, elements of w

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