Concerns about cultural heritage feature prominently in the present humanitarian crisis in Syria and Iraq. With more than 250,000 dead and millions displaced, all aspects of daily life have been upended. Destruction of the region’s famed archaeological sites, most recently Palmyra, has prompted an outpouring of international concern. Despite many humanitarian interventions designed to address the current crisis in Syria and Iraq, there have been fewer efforts to protect the heritage that represents the cultural identity of Syrians and Iraqis inside both countries. What can we do to protect cultural heritage in this crisis?
Brian Daniels, director of research and programs, Penn Cultural Heritage Center, University of Pennsylvania Museum, will deliver the Norman L. & Roselea J. Goldberg Lecture on Tuesday, September 22, in which he will discuss how the Safeguarding the Heritage of Syria and Iraq (SHOSI) Project has answered this question. His lecture, entitled Protecting Cultural Heritage in Syria and Iraq: Lessons Learned in the Present Crisis, will begin at 4:10 pm in Cohen Memorial Hall, room 203, followed by a reception in the atrium.
Daniels co-directs the Safeguarding the Heritage of Syria and Iraq Project, which aims to enhance the protection of cultural heritage by supporting professionals and activists in conflict areas, and leads a National Science Foundation-supported study about the intentional destruction of cultural heritage in conflict. He has worked with local communities on issues surrounding heritage rights and repatriation for more than fifteen years. He previously served as manager of the National Endowment for the Humanities regional center initiative at San Francisco State University, where he developed strategies for community engagement and outreach on folklore documentation. Daniels received his doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Sponsored by the Department of History of Art and the Archaeological Institute of America, the Goldberg Lecture is free and open to the public. The talk will be accompanied by an exhibit in the rear atrium of Cohen Hall that was organized by Betsey Robinson, associate professor of the history of art, and E.B. Armstrong, a junior in the College of Arts and Science.
“Syria Widowed: Remembering Palmyra” commemorates recently destroyed monuments in Palmyra, Syria. The exhibit, on view through December 10, juxtaposes 18th-century engravings of temples, tombs, and cityscapes with photos taken by Robinson in 1995. The organizers hope to counter ISIL’s violence with memories of more peaceful times.
The exhibit co-sponsors are History of Art, Anthropology, Religious Studies, Islamic Studies, and Classical Studies, as well as the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, Divinity School, Fine Arts Gallery, and syriaca.org.
Limited parking is available in Lot 95 outside Cohen Hall, off 21st Avenue South on the Peabody campus and across from Medical Center East. For more information, call the department at 615.322.2831.
*Monumental arch in the eastern section of Palmyra’s colonnade