Built Heritage in Conflict – Protecting global built heritage in war zones; the role of the buildings archaeologist and conservation professional

Posted on July 17, 2019


Unfortunately, I have let this blog fall by the wayside as of late. So to get back into the grove I will try to clear my back log of video posts. First up is this one from the CIfA conference in Newcastle:

Session: Built Heritage in Conflict – Protecting global built heritage in war zones; the role of the buildings archaeologist and conservation professional

Edward James, Events Officer, CIfA Buildings Archaeology Group; Mike Nevell, Chair, CIfA Buildings Archaeology Group

Five years of civil war in Syria, the general conflict in the Middle East and parts of Africa, as well as other relatively recent conflicts in Eastern Europe, have often brought archaeology, and built heritage, into the spotlight as news spreads of internationally important heritage sites being damaged, destroyed or used as propaganda by a range of different actors. This session attempts to spotlight the role archaeologists and heritage professionals have played with regards to the protection and conservation of these sites during and after conflict, as well as the role they have played, or have sometimes been asked to play, in the reconstruction or restoration of sites, including rebuilding parts of Eastern Europe, or reconstituting lost monumental structures like the Palmyra Arch. This would hope to shed light on questions around factors such as authenticity, identity, ethical considerations and practicalities with regards to this issue.

Protecting cultural property during armed conflict: an international perspective

https://youtu.be/_SnF3Ihr73s Professor Peter Stone OBE FSA MCIfA, UNESCO Chair in Cultural Property Protection and Peace

That cultural property is damaged and destroyed during conflict is seen as a given. However, for over 2000 years military theorists have suggested that this is poor military practice. Military forces began to take the issue seriously in the late 19th century and the protection of cultural property was seen as a serious responsibility by Allied, and some parts of Axis, forces during the Second World War. At the end of that conflict the international community came together to produce the 1954 ‘Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict’ and its First Protocol. Sadly, by the end of the 20th century little of this responsibility continued to be acknowledged by the military, or by heritage professionals, and over the last 30 years cultural property has become a specific target in many conflicts. This paper will discuss briefly the history of cultural property protection and then outline some of the activity of the period since 2003.

The reconstruction of Dresden

https://youtu.be/JaXwFeWfqzE Arianne Buschmann, Assistant Buildings Archaeologist, Wardell-Armstrong

The identity of Dresden is greatly based on its long history as cultural centre of Germany, with a large built and artistic heritage. The greater part of Dresden was destroyed during the Second World War. It was soon decided to restore the city’s historic appearance, which started a process lasting several decades. Archaeological reconstruction played a large role in this process, especially in the case of the Church of Our Lady, Zwinger Palace and Opera. However, the question of authenticity needs to be raised. Does the quest for the restoration of Dresden’s historic and cultural identity justify the inaccurate rebuilding of the city centre facades? Should archaeological reconstruction of buildings follow strictly the original design, or are adjustments allowed to correct structural issues?

Restoring and preserving cultural property in post-conflict Bosnia- Herzegovina

https://youtu.be/bNeBJLhdfv8 Helen Walasek, former Associate of the Bosnian Institute, London and Deputy Director of Bosnia-Herzegovina Heritage Rescue (BHHR); Richard Carlton, Visiting Fellow at Newcastle University

The extensive intentional destruction of cultural and religious property in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the 1992–1995 Bosnian War as symbols of ethnic and a wider Bosnian identity was the greatest destruction of cultural heritage in Europe since the Second World War. It provoked worldwide condemnation and remains a seminal marker in the discourse on cultural heritage. Many incidents of destruction subsequently became the subject of war crimes prosecutions at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
After the war ended, a huge international security presence, principally in the form of NATO-led multinational peacekeeping forces (IFOR/SFOR), along with civilian bodies like the Office of the High Representative (OHR), were charged with overseeing implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA). Recognising the overwhelming destruction of cultural heritage that had taken place, the DPA included the protection of historic monuments in its terms (Annex 8). Billions of dollars in international aid was poured into Bosnia-Herzegovina in an enormous reconstruction and state-building exercise.
Comparisons are often now made between the intentional destruction of cultural heritage in Bosnia with recent episodes in Syria and Iraq. While it was difficult then (as now) to actively protect monuments during the conflict (though little was attempted), we explore how international heritage professionals responded post-conflict, alongside local initiatives, in helping to reconstruct and preserve Bosnia-Herzegovina’s devastated cultural heritage. We discuss post-conflict restoration in the context of Annex 8 and the return of ethnically cleansed refugees and displaced people, as well as the many issues that continue to have an impact on preserving cultural heritage in the country, including its rich array of vernacular buildings.

The arts in historic preservation – the southern Caucasus

https://youtu.be/hpTYrCiZPgU Peter Nasmyth, journalist and writer, founder, British Georgian Society

The southern Caucasus region is still regarded as potentially unstable, and is sometimes actively so. The last significant conflict resulted in Russia’s invasion of Georgia in August 2008. This paper presents some techniques in which the arts have been used to raise cultural awareness locally, particularly towards preserving architecture and a sense of history. It also shows how focusing international attention on heritage issues can help to help sway decision makers on the ground, particularly in small, donordependent nations. Examples used will be Sukhumi in Abkhazia and its Art Nouveau villas, abandoned since in the 1992/3 war; Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, where recent foreign aid and capital has generated more damage to the city’s historic character than the entire Soviet period and subsequent civil war; and one remote mountain village in the high Caucasus where international goodwill (as grants and loans) first created more damage, but has recently been corrected.

Peace negotiations in progress in Cyprus and prospects for protecting abandoned built heritage

https://youtu.be/c1ngJPRabmE Dr Maria Yioutani-Iacovides ARB AABC IHBC, conservation architect

In light of the current peace negotiations in Cyprus aiming for a viable political solution, it is vital to acknowledge the built heritage sites that were neglected as a result of the conflicts between 1960 and 1974 and that have remained abandoned since, in the buffer zone. Their archaeological, architectural and historical significance is of global importance.
This paper is concerned with two sites with varied complex issues arising from the prospects for their protection – the Famagusta Franco-Byzantine churches, and Nicosia airport (an example of post-modern aviation architecture). The negotiations provide an immediate opportunity for a forum/charter by the international heritage organisations (UNESCO, ICCROM) and the relevant parties, to establish how to protect and re-implement/revive heritage that has suffered from war and years of abandonment.
Could the prospect of their revival contribute to building trust/confidence in the negotiations process?
Could recognition of World Heritage status for heritage in conflict zones ensure their protection?

An Introduction to the Cultural Protection Fund

https://youtu.be/UwYXbFGZFvQ Amy Eastwood, Cultural Protection Fund Manager, British Council

The Cultural Protection Fund is a partnership between the British Council and the UK government’s Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). Over a period of four years (2016–2020), £30m of funding is available with the objective of helping to create sustainable opportunities for economic and social development through building capacity to foster, safeguard and promote cultural heritage affected by conflict overseas. Eligible projects must aim to benefit one or more of the Fund’s twelve target countries located in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region: Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen. Applications for projects relating to all types of tangible and intangible heritage are eligible. Amy will discuss the parameters of the Fund and how to apply as well as presenting case studies of recently awarded projects.

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