Cultural centers

Workshop: Cultural heritage and war: how art historians work on human rights

As an academic discipline, art history focuses on researching the creation and meaning of art throughout history. When the art and architecture we hold dear are threatened or destroyed, what role can or should art historians play?

Cultural heritage is a non-renewable resource that is vulnerable to many types of threats, such as degradation, development, natural disasters – as well as intentional destruction. The intentional destruction of heritage has become a worldwide phenomenon – associated with greed, but also with discrimination, war, mass violence and genocide.

Art historians have played many roles in the protection and restitution of art since World War II, when the famous ‘Monuments Men’ joined the military to safeguard Europe’s threatened cultural heritage. Since then, the idea of ​​world heritage has taken hold, represented by international organizations such as UNESCO. However, in recent years, UNESCO and World Heritage have been criticized for many failures, including the failure to prevent or deter the destruction of heritage, especially during conflict. Moving forward, some argue for a human rights-based approach to cultural heritage. This approach is particularly important for balancing local and global contexts and for addressing the rights of minority or persecuted groups.

This conference examines the opportunities and challenges of a human rights-based approach to cultural heritage, with examples from recent events in the Middle East and South Caucasus.

This event is sponsored by the Department of History and the O’Donnell Visiting Educator Fund of the Center for Global Studies.

Speaker Biography: Heghnar Zeitlian Watenpaugh is Professor of Art History at the University of California, Davis. She researches the visual cultures of the Middle East. His first book on the architecture of Aleppo received an urban history book prize from the Society of Architectural Historians. His second book, The Missing Pages: The Modern Life of a Medieval Manuscript, from Genocide to Justice (Stanford University Press, 2019), is the only book to win awards from the Society for Armenian Studies and the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association.. It also won the Gold Medal in World History from the Independent Publisher Book Awards and was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing (Non-Fiction). His research has been supported by fellowships from the J. Paul Getty Trust, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright-Hays, the Social Science Research Council, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, and the president of the University of California. Professor Watenpaugh is a Fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation as well as a Public Scholar at the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Tuesday, March 8 at 6:00 p.m.

for 7:30 p.m.

Maxey W42