Whether carved in stone, painted on canvas or built on hallowed ground, our culture is what defines us. As a result, culture often finds itself a prime target during times of war and conflict.
A day of talks & debates, the CULTURE UNDER ATTACK SYMPOSIUM brought together artists, policy experts, activists and authors to explore cultural destruction in conflict, from deliberate terrorist targeting of cultural monuments, to Middle Eastern communities laying down their lives to protect their culture, to how art and creativity can help societies to heal in the wake of destruction.
The Culture Under Attack Symposium took place on Saturday 7th September 2019. It was created in close partnership with Historic England and in collaboration with UK Blue Shield.
SPEAKERS & PERFORMERS
Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published seventeen books, eleven of which are novels. Her work has been translated into fifty languages. Her novels include The Forty Rules of Love and the Booker Prize-nominated 10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World, released to critical acclaim in 2019.
SOKARI DOUGLAS CAMP CBE
Sokari Douglas Camp CBE is an artist and sculptor. Born in Buguma, Rivers State, Nigeria, she studied fine art at Central School of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art. Sokari has represented Britain and Nigeria in national exhibitions and has had more than 40 solo shows worldwide, in venues such as National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute 1988-89 and the Museum of Mankind, London 1994/5.
LEMN SISSAY MBE
Lemn Sissay is a poet, playwright, artist performer and broadcaster. A BAFTA nominated and prize winning writer, Lemn was awarded an MBE for services to literature with other accolades including The Pen Pinter Prize and a Points of Light Award. He holds Honorary Doctorates from The University of Huddersfield, The University of Manchester, The University of Kent and The University of Brunel. His memoir ‘My Name Is Why’ is published by Canongate Books 2019.
PANEL 1: CULTURAL DESTRUCTION - BEYOND COLLATERAL DAMAGE
Destruction of places is an inherent feature of war and conflict. Generations and sometimes centuries of cultural heritage is erased as cities and sites are burned and bombed. But why does cultural destruction and erasure matter so much? How does it tie into larger military strategy in war and conflict? And what immediate impact does it have on the targeted communities? The panel included poet and author LEMN SISSAY; journalist and author ROBERT BEVAN; Roman Archaeology Lecturer ZENA KARMASH and former Foreign and Commonwealth Office Director and IWM Trustee SUZANNE RAINE. The Chair was BBC presenter and reporter LUKE JONES.
PANEL 2: SAVING CULTURE FROM CONFLICT
Cultural heritage binds a society together, representing a shared knowledge, identity and history. But what can be done when culture is threatened and who decides what to save and what to leave? And how do people use culture during the course of conflict to preserve their identities and their collective memory? The panel featured UNESCO Chair for Cultural Property Protection and Peace and Chair of UK Blue Shield PETER STONE; lawyer at NGO Yazda NATIA NAVROUZOV; Commander of the Cultural Property Protection Unit, British Army TIM PURBRICK CBE and Vocalist with the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians HAMSA MOUNIF. The Chair was International Editor for Channel 4 LINDSEY HILSUM.
PANEL 3: PEOPLE AND PLACES - CULTURAL RECOVERY AND RECONSTRUCTION
In the aftermath of cultural destruction, societies are left with decisions over how to respond. Restore, redress, reimagine – responses can take many forms, both tangible and intangible. This panel will debate the ethics behind decision-making in cultural reconstruction, and explore how artists, residents, communities and nations have successfully rebuilt lost cultures over time and the challenges they faced along the way. The panel included Forensic Architecture Researcher ARIEL CAINE; cultural heritage expert at Historic England ALEXANDRA WARR; Vice President of the World Monuments Fund JOHN DARLINGTON and artist and sculptor SOKARI DOUGLAS CAMP. The Chair was Design Museum Director and IWM Trustee TIM MARLOW.