Preserving Cultural Heritage in Times of Conflict: an interdisciplinary conference

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Cultural property, art, and antiquities are often destroyed or looted in armed conflicts. How does the international community respond when cultural heritage objects — from paintings looted in Europe during World War II to Assyrian monuments destroyed by ISIS in the Middle East — are swept up in war?

Preserving Cultural Heritage in Times of Conflict, a three-day conference taking place October 18–20 in Little Hall, aims to explore this question by bringing together a group of interdisciplinary scholars and art crime experts for a series of presentations, lectures, and discussions.

Robert Edsel, author of the best-selling book The Monuments Men, founder of the Monuments Men Foundation, and co-producer of the film adaptation of The Rape of Europa, will present the keynote lecture on Thursday, October 19. The Monuments Men tells the story of the Allied heroes who rescued stolen art objects from the Nazis and unknowingly set a precedent for modern cultural heritage preservation. The Hamilton Movie Theater will host a free screening of the George Clooney-directed adaptation of The Monuments Men at 7:30 p.m., October 18.

Visiting scholars will give twenty-minute talks during three conference panel sessions on October 20. Topics include the illicit traffic of antiquities, cultural cleansing, and genocide. A diverse range of regional and temporal contexts will be explored, including post-WWII Japan, Cambodia, and present-day Iraq. Colgate faculty members and students will have time to respond with questions after each talk.

Preserving Cultural Heritage in Times of Conflict is organized by Colgate University National Endowment for the Humanities Distinguished Visiting Associate Professor Michael Danti and Associate Professor of Art & Art History and Russian and Eurasian Studies Carolyn Guile.

The conference is sponsored by the Office of the President, the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization, the Program in Western Art and Program in Classical Studies, Global Engagements, the Departments of Classics, the Department of Art & Art History, University Studies, and the Penn Museum–Near Eastern Section. It is open to all students and community members.

Learn more about the full conference schedule.