Irina Podgorny

Irina Podgorny has been a research scholar at the Max-Planck Institute for the History of Science since 2009. She received her B.A. from Universidad Nacional de La Plata in the field of Anthropology, her M.A. from Universidad de Buenos Aires in social history and the history of ideas, and her Ph.D. from Universidad de La Plata, also in the field of Anthropology. Podgorny specializes in the emergence of Palenque as an archaeological object and the trade of ruins and fossils. She is the author of El sendero del tiempo y de las causas accidentales - Los espacios de la Prehistoria en la Argentina, 1850-1910, published in 2009 and is currently working on Guido Bennati: Los viajes en Bolivia de la Comisión Médico Científico Quirúrgica italiana, to be published later this year.
Dr. Irina Podgorny‘s talk is entitled “The Mighty Skeletons and the Cultural Geography of the Americas”. The Argentine architect Clorindo Testa (Naples, 1923) earned a worldwide reputation for his powerful urban mega-structures composed of rough concrete, including Banco de Londres y América del Sud (1960-66) and the Biblioteca Nacional (1961-95), both located in Buenos Aires. In many interviews and essays, the design of the Argentine national library has been related to another mega-structure: Glyptodon, a fossil mega-mammal described in the late 1830s that later became an iconic image of South America’s deep past. Depicted in the 1880s as an artificial cave where the men from the “age of the great armadillo” had lived, Testa revisited this animal in his sculpture “El Gliptodonte”, presented in “Patagonia”, a collective exhibition of Grupo CAYC (Buenos Aires, 1988). Just as Testa suggested, Glyptodon represents a structure and a natural thing embedded in the soil of the Pampas, which reemerges over and over again as an object of culture and as a deposit of different cultural traditions. My talk will refer to the long history of these natural and artificial structures, defined in the nineteenth century through the exchange of letters and the trade of bones and drawings between European and South American collectors. By studying these itineraries of knowledge-making, Glyptodon can help to understand the networks of circulation of facts and artifacts that shaped the cultural geography of the Americas.