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CA Festival of Archaeology Conference

First off.. I would like to thank Lisa, Rob, and of course Andrew Selkirk for a brilliant conference. And another big thanks to the Cardiff students who worked their socks off, as well as the guy, who kindly lent me a couple of cigs! (and his lighter). The conference was more than I could have expected, it was well attended, and I took copious notes from more than a score of seminars I attended. I intend to write this all up into a review for Past Horizons magazine. Did it inspire? YES. Did it give me information that even as a professional I found fascinating and relevant? YES. Did it talk down to the public who attended? NO. There were so many highlights, and so many great speakers I am going to have trouble fitting it all in. In truth, if I was to pick out one single event? A[prat from the kids in the National museum being Neanderthal musicians.. to walk through a museum with drums and whoops — inspired! Nice one Steve Mithen! As I said, if I was to pick one talk… it would be Prof Brian Fagan who proceeded to talk without his images (when the Mac refused to connect to the projector) and hold the entire audience rapt with all the skill of a Homeric Poet, as he went on to explain one reason why archaeology is relevant in the 21st century, examining the connection between the Medieval Warm period, and what is happening right now with climate change. His words were a warning from the past and a hope from the future – as he said, will humanity survive.. yes we will, as archaeology has taught us that no matter what, we as a species are infinitely adaptable.. and although the world will change.. it always does, civilisations will fall and rise, we will survive.. I came away thinking, I have just heard a classic. Will I go to the next one? You betcha. Will I say to you.. sign up! YES YES YES if you go to one conference in 2010.. go to the next one in London. Watch out for the next issue of Past Horizons and ca to read more. (5 star!)


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Heritage and Armed Conflict in the 21st century

Culture Wars: Heritage and Armed Conflict in the 21st century

Culture Wars: Heritage and Armed Conflict in the 21st century

Thursday, 11 December to Saturday, 13 December
Location: The Fitzwilliam Museum/Gonville & Caius, Stephen Hawking Building


Closing date for registration is 5 December 2008. Fees range from £20 – £60.

The online booking can be found by clicking onto the link on the right hand side of this page.


Professor Mary Jacobus (CRASSH)
Dr Joanna Kostylo (CRASSH)

Warfare and civil strife of the sort recently witnessed in the Balkans and the Middle East become crucibles in which core convictions about identity are boiled down to their essential elements. As material manifestations of culture, sites and monuments are at once metaphorical weapons and physical casualties of war.  Situations of intense conflict challenge our assumptions about the role of institutions as ‘Keepers of Culture’ and give rise to seemingly insoluble contradictions. Focusing on boundaries, networks, and cultural transmission, this combined CRASSH, Getty Research Institute, and Macdonald Institute conference offers a timely opportunity to test ideas and responses to the acute circumstances created by civil and political conflict.

Controversies arise when heritage sites are simultaneously viewed as cultural, religious, aesthetic, and educational artifacts. At once ‘theirs’ and ‘ours’, competing ideas of heritage are mutually exclusive, while fragile conceptual polarities such as local and universal tend to collapse. The fraught intersection of material heritage, local geopolitics, and the universalist mission calls for an urgent reevaluation of how we manage ‘Culture’ in a culturally fragmented world. With growing frequency, war is not confined to nation-states, but involves ethnic, sectarian, and insurgent groups that cross or contest political boundaries. The conference examines issues raised during and after the Gulf, Balkan, and Afghanistan Wars, with a focus on what (paradoxically) is known as ‘immovable’ heritage:  historical monuments, archaeological sites, and cultural and human landscapes. It poses the following questions:

•    How does the nature of 21st-century conflict bear on immoveable heritage?
•    Are international conventions appropriate to recent scenarios?
•    Why are sites destroyed and to what ends?
•    Is intervention ethically justifiable?
•    What are the appropriate uses of expertise?
•    Does the intensity of the contest over heritage open paths to reconciliation?
•    What new approaches to knowledge sharing can help bridge divides?
•    What is involved in stewarding culture in a post-ownership world?

Responding to a growing concern about on endangered sites in the Middle East and elsewhere, the conference will focus on the following main themes:

•    Cult and Culture: Iconoclasm and the Museum
•    Iconoclasts And Idolators: the Destruction Of Cultural Heritage.
•    The Laws of War and Cultural Policy: Transnational and Internal Disputes
•    Contemporary Conflicts and the Ethics of Intervention
•    Culture and Conciliation: Stewarding Culture in a Post-Ownership World

Confirmed speakers include:

Abbas Alhussainy (Former Chair of the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage)
Michael Barry (Princeton University)
Reinhard Bernbeck (Binghamton University (SUNY))
Patrick Boylan (City University, London)
Hugo Clarke (Headquarters 3 (United Kingdom) Division)
John Curtis (British Museum)
Saad Eskander (Iraq National Library)
Joanne Farchakh Bajjaly (Archaeologist – Journalist, Al Akhbar newspaper)
Tatiana Flessas (LSE)
Dario Gamboni (Université de Genève)
Jan Hladík (UNESCO)
Jonathan Lee (Researcher and Cultural Advisor)
Jolyon Leslie (Aga Khan Foundation)
Margaret Miles (UC, Irvine)
David Myers (Getty Conservation Institute)
Alistair Northedge (Université de Paris I)
Roger O’Keefe (Cambridge)
András Riedlmayer (Harvard University)
Marie-Louise Sorensen (McDonald Institute)
Peter Stone (Newcastle University)
General Barney White-Spunner (GOC 3 ( United Kingdom) Division)
Oliver Urquhart-Irvine (British Library)

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