“How do you remember a scholar whose scholarship was memory?”
That’s what School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) Dean Mark Childs said in his opening remark for a memorial minute to honor Dr. Eleni Bastéa during the Faculty Senate Meeting on March 24.
Bastéa passed away on January 12 after a long battle with cancer. She is survived by her two sons and her husband, SA+P adjunct faculty member Marke Forte.
"I think one of the things that we do is to recognize her scholarship, to read her work, to quote her work,” Childs continued. “And to do what scholarship really can do, which is to have that conversation between the living and those who came before us.”
Bastéa, born and raised in Thessaloniki, Greece, came to the University of New Mexico in 2001. She began teaching in the SA+P and pursued her research interests of contemporary urban and architectural history, geographies and memory of loss, modern greek histories and culture, and international histories and cultures.
Over her career, Bastéa authored many books including “Venice without Gondolas,” “The Creation of Modern Athens: Planning the Myth” and “The Rebirth of Athens: Planning and Architecture in the 19th Century,” and was known internationally for her lectures on memory and architecture, according to the SA+P tribute to Bastéa.
In addition to her scholarship, Bastéa served as the Director of the International Studies Institute and was named a Regents Professor of Architecture in 2012.
Close friend and colleague of Bastéa, Pamela Pyle, remember her not only as a great academic scholar but as “a perfect student, though, in what matters most — life, love, learning, family and friends.”
“Eleni was always onto a new adventure, never satisfied with just completing the previous one, and she wanted to share that excitement for movement with others,” Pyle said in a eulogy she wrote for Bastéa.
Pyle said Bastéa always optimistically ignited any passion she saw in others and encouraged them to pursue it.
“Eleni was an embracer of life — she brought a vibrancy to everything she did — always looking to learn more, see more, know more and share more,” Pyle said. “She wanted, always, to bring people on her journey with her — to show you how great that book was, or how revelatory the ideas were at that lecture she heard, or to give you hope that the new gluten-free, taste-free diet you had to adapt could be enhanced by her hand-made chocolate creations, that she knew you needed.”
Childs said in an interview with the Daily Lobo that if Bastéa was anything, she was passionate. He said that this passion not only transpired into her work and research but also her other interests, such as poetry.
“She was a fighter,” Childs said. “When I say passion, that includes all aspects of passion.”
Childs chose to recite “An Instrument with Keys,” a poem by Kay Ryan to honor her memory during the meeting. He said that poetry was a shared interest between the two. The poem he chose touched specifically on history and memory, much like Bastéa’s research.
But Bastéa will never leave their memory, Pyle said.
“I have always felt that when someone leaves this world, a bit of their energy… spark stays with everyone who loved them,” Pyle said, “as a sort of empowerment or inspiration.”
Makayla Grijalva is the managing editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MakaylaEliboria