Arch 1540 Cultural Heritage: The Players and Politics of Protecting the past

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ARCH 1540 Cultural Heritage: The Players and Politics of Protecting the past

Tuesdays & Thursdays 2:30-3:50pm

Location: Rhode Island Hall, Room 108
Instructor: Michelle Berenfeld

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World

Rhode Island Hall, 60 George Street, Room 009, Ph: 863-2008.


Office hours: Fridays 1-3, and/or by appointment.
The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” L.P. Hartley
Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”

George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Cultural heritage can be defined as physical signs of the human past that exist in the present. As conceived today, however, cultural heritage can be both physical and non-physical (or tangible and intangible in the current lingo); it can encompass both the very old and the still in use, the man-made and the natural, the permanent and the ephemeral, the invisible, even the edible. Cultural heritage is also a profession and an academic field built upon modern ideas about how and why objects, buildings, landscapes, and traditions should be preserved, protected, and presented to people living today and in the future.

This course has two main objectives. The first is to introduce students to the concept of cultural heritage and how it “works” in the world today. The second objective is to critically examine the theories, methods, and questions that shape the effort to protect and interpret cultural heritage today and how these impact modern society, our concepts of history, and our role in shaping its future.
Throughout the course we will explore issues such as current threats to cultural heritage, the roles of public opinion and tourism in the protection and interpretation of cultural heritage, impacts of development, questions of authenticity and identity, international law, ethics, and emerging and non-traditional areas of the field. We will learn about practical considerations, such as public policy, international organizations, legal frameworks, as well as how factors such as colonialism, nationalism, and war have impacted cultural heritage over the centuries. We will look at modern threats to cultural heritage—such as armed conflict, environmental degradation, uncontrolled development, and illicit trade—and will engage in current debates about ownership, responsibility, authenticity, and definitions of heritage. Students will have the opportunity to work on real-world case studies throughout the course.

Prerequisites: None, but the course is primarily geared towards upper-level undergraduates and first- to second-year graduate students.

Course requirements:

This course is designed to be interactive, and requires the full and active participation of all students, including regular attendance, keeping up with the reading, and engagement in discussions. Students will be required to present work in class and to participate actively in discussions of the work of their classmates. In exchange for all that, there will be no exams.

Grade percentages:

  • Class participation (25%)

  • Short writing assignments and presentations (total 25%)

    • First short writing assignment (2-3 pages =10%)

    • Cultural heritage site case-study (4-5 pages, 3-5-minute presentation =15%)

  • Site presentation and interpretation project (3-5 pages or comparable submission, 5-10-minute presentation = 20%)

  • Final paper (30%)

Required Readings:

All of the required readings are articles or book chapters, which are available on the wiki page. Additional references and resources referred to on the syllabus will be available on reserve in the library at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World or posted on the wiki page.

Web Resources:

The following sites provide links to major cultural heritage treaties, charters, and organizations:
UNESCO World Heritage Centre home page, with access to the World Heritage List, etc:
Some specific World Heritage Centre documents:

The World Heritage convention:

Criteria for World Heritage Listing:

The Global Strategy:


Note: All readings should be done before the class for which they are assigned.

Week 1 (Sept. 10)


Week 2 (Sept. 15, 17)

What is cultural heritage? Who protects it? From what? For whom?

Read for Sept. 15:

  • Appiah, K.A. “Whose Culture Is It?” New York Review of Books (Feb. 9, 2006).

  • Arnold, B. “The Contested Past.” Anthropology Today 15 (1999): 1-4.

  • Lowenthal, D. Possessed by the Past: The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History, Introduction and Chapter 1 (“Heritage Ascendant”).

Sept 17: NO CLASS (instructor out of town)

Start working on Assignment 1, Due in Class Sept. 22.

Week 3 (Sept. 22, 24)

Standing on the Shoulders (and walls) of Giants: Histories, Memories, and Heritage

Read for Sept. 22:

  • Rose, C.B. “Troy and the Historical Imagination,” The Classical World (1998), 405-413.

  • Alcock, S. Archaeologies of the Greek Past. Chapter 1.

  • Dietler, M. “Our Ancestors the Gauls: Archaeology, Ethnic Nationalism and the Manipulation of Celtic Identity in Modern Europe.” American Anthropologist 96 (1994): 584-605.

Writing Assignment 1 Due in Class: 2-3-page description and discussion of a first-hand experience of cultural heritage (prepare to discuss)
Read for Sept. 24:
  • Harvey, D.C. “Heritage Pasts and Heritage Presents: Temporality, meaning and the scope of heritage studies.” International Journal of Heritage Studies 7 (2001): 319-338.

  • Nora, P. “Between Memory and History,” in Representations 26 (1989): 7-24.

  • Lowenthal, D. Possessed by the Past: The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History, Chapter 6 (The Purpose of Heritage).

Week 4 (Sept. 29, Oct. 1)

Uses and Abuses of the Past: Politicians, Propaganda, and Poppycock

Read for Sept. 29:

  • Stille, A. The Future of the Past. Introduction, Chapter 1.

  • Silberman, N.A. “Promised Lands and Chosen Peoples: The Politics and Poetics of Archaeological Narrative,” in Nationalism, Politics and the Practice of Archaeology.

  • Holtorf, C. “Beyond Crusades: How (Not) to Engage with Alternative Archaeologies,” World Archaeology 37, No. 4, Debates in World Archaeology (Dec., 2005): 544-551.

  • Arnold, B. “Pseudoarchaeology and Nationalism,” in Cult Archaeology and Creationism: Understanding Pseudoscientific Beliefs about the Past. p. 154-179.

Read for Oct. 1:

  • Fowler, D. “Uses of the Past: Archaeology in the Service of the State” (1987) in Histories of Archaeology, p. 93-119.

  • Arnold, B. “The Past as Propaganda: Totalitarian Archaeology in Nazi Germany,” (1990) in Histories of Archaeology, p. 120-144.

  • Losemann, V. “The Nazi Concept of Rome,” Catharine Edwards, ed., Roman Presences: Receptions of Rome in European Culture, 1789-1945, p. 221-235

  • Kostof, S. “The Emperor and the Duce: The Planning of Piazzale Augusto Imperatore in Rome,” in Art and Architecture in the Service of Politics, p. 270-325.

  • Barghoorn, F. “Stalinism and the Russian Cultural Heritage Source,” The Review of Politics 14 (1952): 178-203.

  • Hamilakis, Y. “Stories from Exile: Fragments from the Cultural Biography of the Parthenon (or 'Elgin') Marbles,” World Archaeology 31 (1999): 303-320.

PREPARE FOR CLASS: Find a website and/or news item that focuses on cultural/historical/archaeological information as a source of cultural identity or pride or to antagonize or belittle. Circulate a link to/copy of the item before class the day before and be prepared to discuss.
Week 5 (Oct. 6, 8)

The Rules and the Manuals: Cultural Heritage Law, Principles, and Guides Today

Read for Oct. 6:

  • UNESCO World Heritage convention:

  • Review the criteria for World Heritage Listing:

  • Silverman and Ruggles, in Cultural Heritage and Human Rights, “Cultural Heritage and Human Rights,” p. 3-22

  • Blake, J. “On Defining the Cultural Heritage,” The International and Comparative Law Quarterly 49 (2000): 61- 85.

  • 1954 Hague Convention and protocols:

  • Gerstenblith, P. “Recent Developments in the Legal Protection of Cultural Heritage,” in Archaeology, Cultural Heritage and the Antiquities Trade. p. 68-92.

  • Schofield, J. “Heritage Mgmt, Theory and Practice,” in A Heritage Reader, p. 15-30.

  • Stille, A. The Future of the Past, Chapter 2.

Read for Oct. 8:

Writing Assignment 2 Due in Class: Cultural Heritage Case Study (and short presentations)
Week 6 (Oct. 13, 15)

Worst-Case Scenario: Afghanistan, Iraq, and Losing the Cradle of Civilization

Read for Oct. 13:

  • Van Buren, A.W. “Some Sculptures in Italy During War Time,” Art and Antiquity 7 (1918): 225-237.

  • Prott, L.V. “Protecting Cultural Heritage in Conflict,” in Archaeology, Cultural Heritage and the Antiquities Trade. p. 25-35.

  • Bogdanos, M. “The Casualties of War: The Truth about the Iraq Museum,” AJA 109 (2005): 477-526 (of lot of it is pictures and footnotes!).

  • Brodie, N. “The Plunder of Iraq’s Archaeological Heritage, 1991-2005, and the London Antiquities Trade,” in Archaeology, Cultural Heritage, and the Antiquities Trade. p. 206-223.

  • Bahrani, Z. “Iraq’s Cultural Heritage: Monuments, History, and Loss,” Art Journal 62 (2003): 11-17.

Read for Oct. 15:

  • Bahrani, Z. “Babylon: A Case Study in the Military Occupation of an Archaeological Site,” Of the Past, For the Future, p. 240-246.

  • Eakin, H. “The Devastation of Iraq’s Past,” New York Review of Books, 14 Aug. 2008.

  • Russell, J.M. “Efforts to Protect Archaeological Sites and Monuments in Iraq, 2003-2004.” in Catastrophe! The Looting and Destruction of Iraq’s Past, p. 29-43. (also review Timeline of Events)

  • Cultural Heritage and National Identity in Afghanistan Author(s): Nancy Hatch Dupree Source: Third World Quarterly, Vol. 23, No. 5, Reconstructing War-Torn Societies: Afghanistan (Oct., 2002), pp. 977-989

PREPARE FOR CLASS: Find a recent news item that addresses some aspect of the cultural heritage of Iraq or Afghanistan. Circulate a link to/copy of the item before class (at least a few hours!) and be prepared to discuss.
Week 7 (Oct. 20, 22)

Duking it out in the dirt: Archaeology, Conservation, and Cultural Heritage

Read for Oct. 20:

  • Stille, A. The Future of the Past, Chapter 3.

  • de la Torre, M. and M. MacLean, “The Archaeological Heritage in the Mediterranean Region,” in The Conservation of Archaeological Sites in the Mediterranean Region (Proceedings of Getty Conservation Institute Conference), p. 5-14.

  • Schmidt, H. “Reconstruction of Ancient Buildings,” in The Conservation of Archaeological Sites in the Mediterranean Region (Proceedings of Getty Conservation Institute Conference), p. 41-50.

  • Matero, F.G. “Heritage, Conservation, and Archaeology: An Introduction,” AIA publication.

  • Buccellati, G. “Conservation qua Archaeology at Tell Mozan/Urkesh,” in Of the Past, For the Future, p. 73-81.

Read for Oct. 22:

  • Özdoğan, M. “Ideology and Archaeology in Turkey,” in Archaeology under Fire, p. 111-123.

  • McManamon, F.P. “Archaeological Messages and Messengers,” in Public Archaeology 1 (2000): 5-20; response and re-response.

  • Tilley, C. “Excavation as Theatre,” in A Heritage Reader, p. 74-81.

  • Sullivan, S. “A Planning Model for the Management of Archaeological Sites,” in The Conservation of Archaeological Sites in the Mediterranean Region (Proceedings of Getty Conservation Institute Conference), p.15-26.

Week 8 (Oct. 27, 29)

Right This Way: Tourism and Presenting Cultural Heritage to the Public

Read for Oct. 27:

  • Timothy, D.J., “Introduction,” in Managing Heritage and Cultural Tourism Resources. Critical Essays, Vol. I. p. xi-xxv.

  • Jameson, J.H. “Presenting Archaeology to the Public, Then and Now: An Introduction,” in The Heritage Reader, p. 428-456.

  • Sivan, R. “The Presentation of Archaeological Sites,” in The Conservation of Archaeological Sites in the Mediterranean Region (Proceedings of Getty Conservation Institute Conference), p 51-59.

  • World Heritage Manuals 1. Managing Tourism at World Heritage Sites: a Practical Manual for World Heritage Site Managers. Introductory material, choose one section of interest to you to read more carefully.

For Oct. 29:

  • Moscardo, G. “Mindful Visitors: Heritage and Tourism.” in Managing Heritage and Cultural Tourism Resources. Critical Essays, Vol. I. p. 281-302. (original publication Annals of Tourism Research 23 (1996): 376-97).

  • Hampton, M.P. “Entry Points for Local Tourism in Developing Countries: Evidence from Yogyakarta, Indonesia,” Human Geography 85 (2003): 85-101.

Week 9 (Nov. 3, 5)

Economics, Sustainability, and Living with Cultural Heritage

For Nov. 3:

Assignment 3 Due in Class: Site Presentation and Interpretation Project (and short presentations).
Read for Nov. 5:

  • Low, S.M. “Social Sustainability: People, History, and Values,” in Managing Change: Sustainable Approaches to the Conservation of the Built Environment, p. 47-64.

  • World Heritage Papers 13. Linking Universal and Local Values: Managing a Sustainable Future for World Heritage (skim).

  • Rojas, E. “Heritage Conservation in Latin America and the Caribbean: Recent Bank Experience,” Inter American Development Bank (1998).

  • “Museum Offers Gray Gaza a View of Its Dazzling Past,” New York Times (25 July 2008). (

  • Links to World Bank reports on cultural heritage on the wiki.

Week 10 (Nov. 10, 12)

It’s Not All Greek to Me: Cultural Heritage of a Great Big World

Post-colonialism and cultural heritage of the global south, the east, the north. The underrepresented, the vernacular, the intangible, the secular, the ugly.
Read for Nov. 10:

  • Overview text at and the “Report of the Expert Meeting on the ‘Global Strategy’ and thematic studies for a representative World Heritage List.” under Conferences and Studies (

  • Shepherd, N. “Disciplining archaeology; the invention of South African prehistory, 1923-1953,” Kronos (2002): 127-45.

  • Shepherd, N. “Archaeology Dreaming; postapartheid urban imaginaries and the bones of the Prestwich Street dead,” Journal of Social Archaeology 7 (2007): 3-28.

  • Thebe, P.C. “Intangible Heritage Management: Does World Heritage Listing Help?” in Of the Past, For the Future, p. 312-321.

  • Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, B. “Intangible Heritage as Metacultural Production,” Museum International 56 (2004): 52-64.

Read for Nov. 12:

Each student will select a category of underrepresented/alternative/unrecognized to investigate and discuss in class. Bibliography will we posted on the wiki.

Week 11 (Nov. 17, 19)

Earth, Wind, and Fire: Cultural Heritage and Climate Change

Read for Nov. 17:

  • Colette, A., et al. Case Studies on Climate Change and World Heritage. Introductory material and sections 4 and 5.

  • Mitchell, P. “Practicing archaeology at a time of climatic catastrophe,” Antiquity 82 (1093-1103).

  • Cassar, M. and R. Pender. “The impact of climate change on cultural heritage: evidence and response,” 14th Triennial Meeting, The Hague, 12-16 September 2005, p. 610-616.

  • Berenfeld, M. “Climate Change and Cultural Heritage: Local Evidence, Global Responses,” George Wright Forum 25 (2008): 66-82.

Read for Nov. 19:

Student Presentations: Reading to be assigned by student presenters.

Week 12 (Nov. 24, 26)

Student Presentations

Read for Nov. 24:

Student Presentations: Reading to be assigned by student presenters.

Nov. 26: NO CLASS (Thanksgiving)
Week 13 (Dec. 1, 3)

Student Presentations and Conclusions

Read for Dec 1:

Student Presentations: Reading to be assigned by student presenters.

Read for Dec 3:

Student Presentations, if necessary. Otherwise, reading TBD by instructor.

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