Cultural Heritage

Fundamentalist groups are waging an international war. Houses, settlements and cities are being destroyed, people murdered, cultural sites ransacked. Militants in Mali damaged shrines in Timbuktu, while members of Da’esh have annihilated  the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud, including its colossal guardian figures , and many more historical, cultural and religious sites. These acts have caused an outcry among heritage experts, art historians, archaeologists, members of the general public, UNESCO and the United Nations Security Council which condemned the Islamic State’s “latest barbaric acts” in Iraq. “We see clearly how terrorists use the destruction of heritage in their strategy to destabilize and manipulate populations so that they can assure their own domination.”[1]
Given that the images and artifacts being destroyed do not directly represent “Western culture,” their destruction invites consideration of the universal notion of cultural heritage. What turns an ancient objet trouvé into an object of world cultural heritage? Who owns the memory embodied in the artifact? How do we value the aesthetic form of the object itself in comparison to its intrinsic value as a witness of history? How can this memory be saved and protected against loss and for whom? What should be and can be preserved – the material or its meaning?
(credit for above quote: Irina Bokova, “UNESCO calls for mobilization to stop cultural cleansing in Iraq” February 27, 2015:

Ben O'Loughlin and Courtney A. Beale

Thursday, April 21, 2016, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Countering Violent Extremism - Towards a New Era of Peacebuilding

New York University, 1307 L St. NW, Washington, DC 20005 (Metro: McPherson Square)

Reformatting Space: The Self-Proclaimed “Islamic State’s” Strategy of Destroying Cultural Heritage and Committing Genocide
The “Islamic State” is reformatting the Middle East and parts of North Africa. The systematic genocide against non-Sunnis and the wiping out of the respective cultural heritage sites and holy places is nothing but a consequent removal of religious pluralism and tolerance.
Article by Nico Prucha, Research Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at the Department for War Studies, King’s College London.

On June 10th, 2014, militants fighting on behalf of the “Islamic State” (ISIS) seized the city of Mosul, consolidating their hold over large swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq.

Article by Eckart Frahm, Professor of Assyriology at Yale.

Tuesday, November 10, 3 - 5 pm

What is Cultural Heritage? And for Whom?
EU Delegation to the U.S., 2175 K Street NW, Washington DC, 20037 (entrance on 22nd Street; Metro: Farragut North)