Cultural Heritage: Conflict and Reconciliation
On Friday, April 17, the Smithsonian Institution and the Cultural Policy Center held a convening in Washington DC on the ways that cultural heritage is increasingly implicated in conflict and is also used to aid societal reconciliation and revitalization.
It brought together academic, government, intergovernmental, civic and private sector leaders to discuss the global state-of-affairs for cultural heritage protection and promotion, and to consider forms of cooperation in research and professional practice.
Read the summary report and the UChicago News story.
Look at our graphic event summary below, which captured and mapped the day's key issues.
Watch the video, which was webcast live from the Smithsonian Institution's Freer Gallery of Art.
See photos, quotes, and reactions from the event on Twitter @CulturalPolicy. Have something to add to the conversation? Contribute your thoughts by using #SIheritage.
This featured panel of cultural heritage leaders includes:
Mounir Bouchenaki, Director of the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage
Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution
George Papagiannis, External Relations & Information Officer at UNESCO
Emily Rafferty, President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Interviewed by David Rubenstein, Smithsonian Regent and University of Chicago Trustee, and co-founder of The Carlyle Group
Introduced by Betty Farrell, Executive Director of the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago
Event perspectives from UChicago attendees
Claudia Figueroa Master of Public Policy candidate, 2016
"This conference allowed me to get a sense of the tension between the different stakeholders, like academia, NGOs, and governmental agencies involved in cultural heritage... As some of the panelists mentioned, there is a strong necessity for legal reforms and it is urgent to advance international laws and law enforcement mechanisms that protect cultural heritage from looters. Without international legal reform, the tension will continue, making it difficult to form effective collaboration strategies between stakeholders."
Fiona Greenland Research Fellow, Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society
"Cultural heritage study is an inherently interdisciplinary enterprise. No single academic field supplies the necessary tools and frameworks to explain the scope and impact of, or solution to, the destruction of cultural heritage through violence and trafficking. This Smithsonian/Cultural Policy Center conference is a great example of how epistemological progress is achieved—namely, through frank discussion from multiple disciplinary viewpoints."
Nika Levando Assistant Director of Neighborhood Initiatives, Office of Civic Engagement
"When Deborah Lehr, the Chairman and Co-Founder of the Antiquities Coalition, spoke about cultural heritage as a catalyst for international friction and potential global conflict for the future, it really hit home just how much cultural heritage is integral for human identity and affects how we interact with one another globally. Personally, as an Assyrian living in the United States, knowing that the destruction of ancient artifacts of my own culture has become a serious aspect of national safeguarding and conservation efforts, I was incredibly moved and I am certainly proud that these groups actively work to protect cultural heritage for nationalities that could easily disappear if not for their source of collective memory and identity through cultural artifacts."
Kerri Malone Master of Arts in the Humanities candidate, 2015
"The event was extremely pertinent in helping me realize how news articles and social media skew my own knowledge of cultural heritage. As I listened to discussion of how making information accessible can put cultural heritage sites at risk, I began to interrogate how I inform myself about cultural heritage. What is the best way to connect and inform wider audiences about these issues? It is in these ruminations that I found the tone of the afternoon panelists somewhat surprising, albeit pleasant, as they expressed the importance of media campaigns such as UNESCO’s #Unite4Heritage. Such campaigns inform wider audiences about cultural heritage, and also garner support for the protection of heritage."
Smithsonian Magazine: Why We Have a Civic Responsibility to Protect Cultural Treasures During Wartime