Conference: Cultural heritage in armed conflicts

14 September 2016

International conference in Visby at Campus Gotland 15–16 September

Why do cultural heritage sites become targets during some conflicts? How can a community manage and maintain its cultural heritage following a serious conflict? These are the kinds of questions will be taken up at an international conference to be held at Uppsala University Campus Gotland on 15–16 September. Researchers from a number of countries such as Egypt, Sudan, Iraq, Palestine, Croatia, Bosnia and the UK will be taking part. The conference has been organised by the Conservation programme and the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University.

Armed conflicts cause great human suffering but they also affect the cultural heritage of communities involved. We regularly hear about cultural heritage sites being damaged or destroyed where wars are in progress, such as in Syria and Iraq or previously in the Balkan States. Conflicts can also, however, be caused or exacerbated by disputes over who has the rights to use history and reminders of the past. Conflicts lead to new interpretations of the past because the collective memories of communities are used to form identities and to link together the past, present and future.

This is the first time an international conference has been arranged where researchers from the cultural heritage sector are there to meet peace and conflict researchers.

The conference is part of the research project Attacks on Cultural Heritage: Causes and Consequences from an Interdisciplinary Perspective led by Professor Mattias Legnér. It is being financed by Uppsala University with some support from the British Museum in London.

The conference will be conducted in English. It begins on 15 September at 9.00 in room B51 with three open lectures:

  • Dacia Viejo Rose, University of Cambridge: War and Cultural Heritage
  • Isak Svensson, Uppsala University: Exploring the Religious Dynamics of Armed Conflicts
  • Andreas Heymowski, Uppsala University: Cultural Heritage without Borders: Restoring and Building Relations – 20 Years of Experience from the Western Balkans

The rest of the conference will consist of presentations by various participants to invited guests. The conference ends with a round-table discussion on 16 September from 11.00 – 12.00.