CFP: Local Responses to Cultural Heritage Preservation in the Age of UNESCO

“Whose Heritage is it Anyway?”: Local Responses to Cultural Heritage Preservation in the Age of UNESCO

UT Antiquities Action 2020 Annual Symposium
Keynote speaker: Yvonne Therese Holden, Director of Operations, Whitney Plantation

UT Antiquities Action invites the submission of abstracts for its 5th annual symposium, to be held on Saturday, the 4th of April, 2020 at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Heritage preservation has been dominated by European-focused approaches since the founding of the discipline of archaeology. A particularly apposite example is the preservation of the site of Palmyra, Syria, by French official Henri Seyrig. Like many projects of its time, the ‘preservation’ involved the eviction and relocation of the living village of Tadmur, which had continually occupied since the Roman era. The relocation included the destruction of the thousand-year-old mosque inside the Temple of Bel, which was resurrected as a Roman temple and the new centerpiece of a now ‘ancient’ site of heritage. Extremist groups have weaponized the perceived over-attachment of Western heritage projects to antiquity over local, living heritage. Examples include the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001, which was carried out as an act of protest against the flow of Western heritage ‘aid’ even as a famine engulfed Afghanistan, ISIS’s filmic destruction at the museum in Mosul, Iraq or - coming full circle – their devastation of Seyrig’s recreated Palmyra. Similarly, the U.S. invasion of Iraq was justified partly by emphasizing the danger to a heritage ostensibly “shared by all humankind,” though in practice, little regard was paid to local, living heritage as the library, archives, and museum in Baghdad were burned and looted while American soldiers stood by. More recently, approaches such as UNESCO’s idea of ‘universal heritage’ have attempted to incorporate the values of local people, but fall short in that they often insert “locals and their heritage into predetermined schemes of global world heritage” (Meskill 2002). Meanwhile, more quietly but equally dramatically, in local communities around the world, tourism and gentrification are transforming vibrant local cultural and heritage landscapes under the umbrella of development. Against this background, it is urgent that a more inclusive and less problematic models of genuinely local heritage preservation be developed.

Our keynote speaker will be Yvonne Therese Holden, director of operations at the Whitney Plantation, a museum devoted to slavery in the southern United States. Rather than focusing on the plantation owners, the Whitney tells the story of the slaves who worked on the plantation by means of oral history, interpretive tours, and experiential encounters.

Papers may address, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • How have local people addressed the conservation of their heritage?
  • How have the application or misapplication of Eurocentric notions of heritage preservation helped or hindered heritage preservation in different areas around the world?
  • How viable is the notion of ‘universal heritage’ in today’s world?
  • Have notions of heritage preservation changed or adapted over time? Does this relate to a model of universal heritage?
  • How can archaeologists, community activists, or heritage experts take steps to prevent the misappropriation or propagandization of heritage?

We welcome submissions from faculty, undergraduate, or graduate students from any area. Papers must be original and previously unpublished. Please send an abstract (250-300 words), a paper title, and a CV to antiquitiesactionsymposium@gmail.com.

The deadline for submissions is Sunday, February 14, 2020. Selected speakers will be notified no later than February 20, 2020, and are expected to accept or decline the offer within a week of notification. Papers should be 20 minutes in length and will be followed by a question and answer session. Selected participants will need to provide a full draft of your paper by Monday, March 23, 2020.

UT Antiquities Action is a group of students, staff, and faculty at the University of Texas at Austin that seeks to raise awareness of a wide range of cultural heritage issues. This event is generously sponsored by the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Middle Eastern Studies, The Department of Classics, The Mesoamerica Center, and the Department of Art and Art History. 

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(Photo: "Handwritten" by A. Birkan, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

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Given the rapidly changing situation in the present moment, a conference in January 2021 looks a long way off. But planning for our 152nd annual meeting in Chicago has already begun, and it will intensify in the months between now and then. Indeed we are making both plans and contingency plans, because the SCS will hold its annual meeting in some form. It may resemble past meetings, or it may involve remote participation; it is impossible to predict what circumstances will require. But the process of compiling the academic portion of the program will proceed (almost) as usual, with a (remote) Program Committee meeting in June in which the committee discusses the abstracts and proposals submitted through the online submission system. Only after the panels and papers have been selected and arranged can planning begin for the rest of the program: the committee meetings, the business meetings for affiliated groups, the interviews, the receptions, and all of the other meeting events

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 04/07/2020 - 2:42pm by Helen Cullyer.

In his history of the long and costly war between Athens and Sparta, the historian Thucydides explained that he had written his narrative to be “a possession for all time” and to be of assistance to those of future generations “who want to see things clearly as they were and, given human nature, as they will one day be again, more or less."1 Thucydides was a shrewd observer and analyst of human behavior, and his work has frequently been cited in times of crisis by those who see patterns in history.  At the famous ceremony dedicating the battlefield cemetery at Gettysburg in 1863 at which Lincoln also spoke, former Secretary of State Edward Everett delivered a eulogy

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 04/03/2020 - 8:10am by .

As we all contend with the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 Coronavirus, I want to start by highlighting a gratifying fact: the indispensable expert and voice of reason, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, majored in Classics as an undergraduate at Holy Cross!  This is a timely and inspiring reminder that Classics majors go on to distinguish themselves in many different careers and to perform many kinds of vital service.

I also want to emphasize that, despite the ongoing crisis, the SCS is fully up-and-running. Our three fulltime staff members, Helen Cullyer, Cherane Ali, and Erik Shell, have made a seamless transition to working remotely, thanks to careful advance planning on their part. They are maintaining regular business hours even as they work remotely, and are available to help our members however they can.

View full article. | Posted in Presidential Letters on Sun, 03/29/2020 - 2:22pm by Helen Cullyer.

­­The Classics Everywhere initiative, launched by the SCS in 2019, supports projects that seek to engage communities worldwide with the study of Greek and Roman antiquity in new and meaningful ways. As part of this initiative the SCS has been funding a variety of projects ranging from reading groups comparing ancient to modern leadership practices to collaborations with artists in theater, music, and dance. In this post we focus on projects that bring creativity and science into the Classics classrooms of secondary schools from California to Louisiana, New Jersey, and New York.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 03/27/2020 - 6:25am by .

The SCS Board of Directors has endorsed a statement by the American Sociological Association on faculty review and reappointment during COVID-19.

Read the statement and full list of signatories at this link

https://www.asanet.org/news-events/asa-news/asa-statement-regarding-faculty-review-and-reappointment-processes-during-covid-19-crisis

View full article. | Posted in Public Statements on Mon, 03/23/2020 - 4:26pm by Helen Cullyer.

As the pandemic known as COVID-19 grips the globe, thousands of instructors in the United States and elsewhere have been asked to transition their courses online for the remainder of the semester. To some instructors, such as the superb Classics professors at the Open University, distance learning has become a normalized pedagogy. To many others facing teaching online: this is uncharted territory.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 03/20/2020 - 8:43am by Sarah E. Bond.

Please see the following on access to digital resources during COVID-19:

1. The digital Classical Loeb Library recently announced that it is making its subscription free to all schools and universities affected by COVID-19 until June 30, 2020. Librarians should email loebclassics_sales@harvard.edu for more details. In addition, SCS members can access the library for free until June 30, 2020 via the For Members Only page of our website. Log on to https://classicalstudies.org and access the For Members only page via our Membership menu. 

2. Johns Hopkins University Press and a number of publishers that contribute content to Project Muse are making books and journals freely accessible for several months. JHUP journals include AJP, TAPA, and CW. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 03/19/2020 - 9:03am by Helen Cullyer.

Results and materials from the Classics tuning project we've mentioned in prior newsletters are now available publicly. See the below press release from the project's authors for full details:

THE ACM CLASSICS TUNING PROJECT: REPOSITORY OF MATERIALS

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 03/18/2020 - 11:02am by Erik Shell.

We're proud to announce the digital publication of "Careers for Classicists: Undergraduate Edition." This work is a completely new version of our previous "Careers for Classicists" pamphlet, providing the latest insights on how undergraduate classics majors can best prepare for jobs in a variety of fields.

You can read this newest publication in our online book format here: https://classicalstudies.org/careers-classicists-undergraduate-edition

We'd like to thank Adriana Brook, Eric Dugdale, and John Gruber-Miller for doing so much work in putting this volume together. The print version of "Careers" will be available in a few months, and will be one of several benefit choices for departmental membership.

And, in case you missed it, you can read the Graduate Student version of this publication here: https://classicalstudies.org/careers-classicists-graduate-student-edition

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 03/16/2020 - 12:51pm by Erik Shell.
We realize that this is a time of unprecedented turmoil, disruption, and challenge in all our personal and professional lives. SCS is delaying deadlines for 2021 annual meeting program submission in the hope that some extra time will be helpful to anyone planning to submit. The new deadlines are:
 
- April 21 (by 11.59pm EDT) for all submissions other than individual abstracts and lightning talks
- April 28 (by 11.59pm EDT) for all individual abstracts and lightning talks
 
As circumstances change, we will continue to adapt. While it is too early to say what effect COVID-19 will have on our annual meeting in January 2021, we will adjust as necessary and provide an annual meeting in some form. 
 
View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Sun, 03/15/2020 - 4:26pm by Helen Cullyer.

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