Conflict and Cultural Heritage Conference


31 October 2015.

09.15am – 17.30pm

St John’s College Auditorium, Oxford, UK.
For venue details, click here.

Organisers: OxPeace, the Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) project in the School of Archaeology, and the Changing Character of War programme (CCW), in association with the Ashmolean and V&A Museums. With sponsorship from the St John’s College Research Centre, CBRL, BISI, CCW, the V&A, Maison Francaise, and the Golden Bottle Trust.

We would like to thank UK Blue Shield for offering us some web space.

The Conflict and Cultural Heritage Conference aims to raise public awareness and develop understanding of the issues surrounding the protecting of cultural heritage at risk from armed conflict. Focussing on the Middle East, the area currently undergoing the greatest destruction and where the heritage is most at risk, we aim to demonstrate the importance of the heritage, why its destruction matters, and what can be done. Topics to be explored will include the material heritage of the region from international and local perspectives, and the living heritage of communities with rich and longstanding traditions, before exploring why such destruction is happening, and the beliefs that underlie extremist practices. Focus will then move to an overview of what is being done already, and what more the international community can do. This free conference is intended to provide information from a variety of cultures, perspectives, and organisations, including academics, archaeologists, the military, and the media, raising awareness of the multi-cultural nature of Middle Eastern heritage, and its global relevance in the past and today.

All welcome, admission free, no pre-registration.

Download the full programme: CCH – FINAL Full Programme

Listen to / watch the the podcasts here.

The program has four sessions:

09.30  Welcome and introduction –  Chair: Dr Liz Carmichael (OxPeace)

09.30  Theme 1: What is happening? The significance of sites at risk, and the current situation.
Chair: Dr Liz Carmichael (OxPeace)

09.35: Dr Robert Bewley (EAMENA):
Overview of Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa 

09.45: Dr Ross Burns (author ‘The Monuments of Syria’ and ‘History of Damascus’):
Monuments at War—the Syrian Conflict and the Changing Pattern of Destruction as Reflected in Aleppo and Palmyra

10.15: Dr Lamia al-Gailani (UCL / SOAS):
When words fail. Iraq’s lost heritage, and efforts to save it

10.40: Dr Sebastian Brock and Sebastien de Courtois (Oriental Institute, Oxford University, and l’École Pratique des Hautes Études):
Syriac Christian communities: people, monuments and manuscripts in Syria, Turkey, and Iraq

11.10  Coffee in Reception Room

11.30  Theme 2: Why is this happening?  Understanding ISIL and other Islamist extremism:
Chair: Dr John Chesworth (Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies, Oxford)

11.30: Dr Alia Brahimi (CCW; Contest Global):
Cultural Heritage in the Islamic State’s Worldview

12.00: Dr Rizwaan Sabir (Liverpool John Moore University):
ISIS: In the Name of Power, Politics, and Propaganda

12.30: Dr Noel Brehony (Chair of CBRL):
Politics, with a focus on Yemen

13.00  Lunch (1 hour): sandwiches, juices provided in Reception Room

14.00  Theme 3: What is being done or should be done?  Exploring archaeological and military heritage protection initiatives.
Chair: Dr Paul Collins (Ashmolean Museum)

14.00: Prof. Graham Philip (Durham University and Shirin):
The Sites and Monuments Record for Syria, and the Shirin Project.

14.20: Lt Col Tim Purbrick (British Army):
Delivering a Military Cultural Property Protection Capability

14.40: Vernon Rapley (V&A Museum):
Law Enforcement of Cultural Heritage Crime

15.10: Dr Emma Cunliffe (EAMENA, and Heritage for Peace):
“Heritage for Peace”: an NGO protecting Syrian Cultural Heritage during the Conflict

15.30  Panel: Where do we go from here? The impact of the present situation on the fields represented by today’s speakers, and on the media.
A discussion panel of the speakers, with audience Q&A, introduced and chaired by Sebastian
Usher (BBC Middle East Editor).

16.30  Closure (chair: Dr Liz Carmichael) and tea in Reception Room.


The progamme can be downloaded here: Conflict and Cultural Heritage – Final Programme.

Download the poster: Conflict cultural heritage poster.

All talks have been recorded, and have been made available as videos on the V&A’s Culture in Crisis hub (here).

Podcasts of the event are available on Oxford University’s website: Oxford University Podcasting Media web portal.

For people using “iTunes” software:
Video version – Oxford on iTunesU Video Version
Audio version – Oxford on iTunesU Audio version

The conference is sponsored by the V&A MusuemOxPeace Oxford, Changing Character of War Programme Oxford, EAMENA Oxford, St John’s College Oxford, Maison Française Oxford, CBRL, and BISI.