Tachar y borrar: TÁcticas para cambiar el pasado

Translated title of the contribution: Strikethrough and wipe-out: Tactics for editing the past

Tim Ingold*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When editing text by hand, lines may be struck out, in acts of deletion, or rubbed out, in acts of erasure. This article argues that deletion and erasure are opposed, both operationally and in their surface effects. While the strike-through physically crosses words out, ontologically it makes no more contact with the surface on which they are written than does a line inscribed on a mirror with that which is reflected in the glass. It is as if the stroke were drawn across another plane, layered over the page of writing. Rubbing or scratching out, however, erodes the surface itself. When the same surface if repeatedly reused, as was common with writing on parchment, past traces come up while the traces of the present sink down. The same goes for the reuse of the ground, in cycles of cultivation. Both lead to the formation of a palimpsest. With the palimpsest, turning over is fundamental to renewal. The territorial state, by contrast, assumes the ground to be stratified into layers, stacked up in a temporal sequence. Renewal, then, can come only by adding further layers. We thus arrive at a distinction between two kinds of surface: the layered surface, covering up what went before and closed to what follows; and the deep surface, that covers nothing but itself yet nevertheless rises into the open. These surfaces embody, respectively, the contrary principles of stratigraphy and anti-stratigraphy. Camouflage works by tricking us into taking one kind of surface for another. The example of burial, however, shows how both principles can combine. Burying the past puts it down but will not make it go away. Only when it finally rises to the surface can the past be wiped out by the ravages of time.

Translated title of the contributionStrikethrough and wipe-out: Tactics for editing the past
Original languageSpanish
Article numbere003
Number of pages10
JournalDisparidades. Revista de Antropologia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2021


  • Deletion
  • Erasure
  • Interface
  • Memory
  • Palimpsest
  • Stratigraphy


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