Before the ruins

Love, death, and the unmaking of place in neoliberalizing Algeria

by JANE E. GOODMAN

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In a seaside Algerian town, a cherished local theater was about to be demolished to make way for a touristic boardwalk. In response the community of actors gathered at the theater in what, from one perspective, appeared to be a street protest. Yet if we approach the apparent protest in terms of the unfolding material encounters between bodies, backhoes, and buildings, we begin to see alternative performances of vigil, visitation, and mourning that were under way that day. Through these encounters, the theater was “unmade” as it was awaiting demolition. As material and affective charges surge and recede in the street, the emergent experience of ruination comes to inform the development and deployment of theory.