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Reflecting on the IRDR Panel Discussion: Heritage and Disasters

GuestBlogger23 March 2016

pencil-icon Written by Dr Farnaz Arefian, Enterprise Manager, UCL Institute for Risk and Disasters ReductionIRDR panel discussion

The UCL Institute for Risk and Disasters Reduction (IRDR) successfully held its public panel discussion on Heritage and Disasters at UCL on 9 March, discussing cultural heritage protections and how to plan for and recover from disasters.

The attendees enjoyed an interactive and thought-provoking discussion with the panelists and a drinks reception, during which attendees could network and continue their informal discussions followed the discussion.

Five panelists from academia and practice engaged in a vibrant and lively discussion on how to protect cultural heritage from disasters such as earthquakes and conflicts and it was exciting to see attendees from across the heritage sector, including museums, heritage studies and NGOs, as well as attendees from practice.

The panel included William Brown, National Security Adviser, Arts Council England; Dr Sergio Olivero, Head of Energy and Security Research Area at the Istituto Superiore sui Sistemi Territoriali per l’Innovazione (SiTI), Italy; Dr Kalliopi Fouseki, lecturer and course director for the MSc Sustainable Heritage at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage (ISH); Jonathan N. Tubb, Keeper (Head), Middle East, the British Museum.

Dr Farnaz Arefian, Enterprise Manager at IRDR and Founder of ‘Silk Cities’ Platform, chaired the panel, opening the discussion by focusing on key cultural heritage preservation questions: Why the protection of cultural heritage is important and how we can protect and enhance its resilience to disasters? What are the complexities in practice? How existing academic discourse and research on heritage and disaster risk reduction can play role in heritage resilience? How the public and private sectors can be mobilized to proactively reduce disaster risk to our cultural heritage and enhance successful recovery and/or reconstruction when it is impacted? (more…)

Lunch Hour Lectures: International Law and the protection of cultural property in war

ThomasHughes9 February 2016

Unusually for a Lunch Hour Lecture, Professor Roger O’Keefe (UCL Laws) spoke without the support of slides for nearly an hour about international efforts to protect cultural heritage in war zones – because he believed that images illustrating instances of cultural damage would simply be too depressing.

By Bernard Gagnon - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12163785

Monument Arch in Palmyra, Syria. Now destroyed by IS.

International law

International law prohibits the damaging of cultural sites during war, and almost all UN member states have signed up to this. These agreements are often criticised however for failing to protect a number of cultural sites from damage or destruction.

This has particularly been the case in the Syrian civil war, where a number of high profile sites such as crusader castles and ancient temples have been damaged.

However, as Professor O’Keefe pointed out, few laws are perfect: for example, people still carry out murder despite strong laws against it and serious punishments for this crime. In his view, the law against the damaging of cultural heritage sites, while not perfect, makes important efforts to protect these historical areas.

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Lunch Hour Lectures on Tour: A book by any other name would smell as sweet

JamesHeather28 June 2012

The UCL Lunch Hour Lectures, currently on tour to the British Museum, offer the free chance to break up a busy working day with a thought-provoking mini-lecture. I went along to the third instalment on 21 June, which was given by Dr Matija Stlic from the UCL Centre for Sustainable Heritage.Go on, give it a sniff

Dr Strlic’s job is one of those that you never found out about in career days at school; he uses applied chemistry to protect our cultural heritage. This week’s talk was all about his work on paper and the importance of its smell.

There’s nothing quite like a smell for triggering memories. Like many other people, I think the smell of old books takes me back to many happy places; finding old family documents in the back of my grandparents’ cupboards, wandering through old libraries with my parents, or rooting through second-hand bookshops as a student.

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The Grant Museum of Zoology re-opens, 17th March 2011

CarlySchnabl21 March 2011

After months of disarticulating, packing, measuring, heaving crates and boxes with priceless specimens around, unpacking, rearticulating and redisplaying the Grant Museum was officially opened last Thursday reports Mark Carnall, Curator, Grant Museum of Zoology.

Watch a film of the move here:

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