Tagged: Cultural Heritage

The Persistence of Preservation

To finish up Preservation Week we’ve got a re-post of an article that Michele Cloonan wrote for CILIP in 2016 about the destruction of cultural heritage.

800px-Temple_of_Baal-Shamin,_Palmyra

The title of a recent book by Alicia Ely Yamin, Power, Suffering, and the Struggle for Dignity: Human Rights Frameworks for Health and Why They Matter (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015), caught my eye. The book focuses on human-rights-based approaches to health and development. “The ultimate concern” of the book, to quote from the publisher’s blurb, “is to promote movement from analysis to action, so that we can begin to use human rights frameworks to effect meaningful social change in global health, and beyond.” Could the phrase “preservation of cultural heritage” be substituted in the title of a hypothetically titled parallel book?

Most of us don’t equate preservation with human rights

henry-dunant-francis-lieber

While most of us don’t equate preservation with human rights, the relationship has been touched on at least as early as the nineteenth century—although the destruction of cultural heritage has taken place for as long as there has been heritage. In the nineteenth century the concept of human rights was considered in the context of war. Swiss businessman and reformer Henri Dunant was an organiser of the First Geneva Conference for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded Armies in the Field (1863-64) and a founder of the Red Cross (see his Memory of Solferino [Geneva, Switzerland: International Committee of the Red Cross, 1986]).

At just about the same time as these activities were taking place in Europe, Francis Lieber, a German jurist who settled in the United States, prepared for the Union Army General Orders No. 100: Instructions for the Government of the Armies of the United States in the Field, better known as the Lieber Code; it established rules for the humane treatment of civilians in areas of conflict and forbade the execution of prisoners of war. Further it sought the protection of works of art, scientific collections, and hospitals in war-torn areas. These ideas were further developed in the Hague Peace Conferences that were held from 1899-1907 and in the later Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954 and the 1999 Second Protocol). Excerpts of these codes, conventions, and protocols are included in chapter 9 of my Preserving Our Heritage: Perspectives from Antiquity to the Digital Age (London: Facet, 2015).

Why can’t we protect cultural heritage?

Giant standing Buddhas of Bamiyan still cast shadows

Since the publication of my book—and as armed conflicts in the Middle East have escalated, and countless works of heritage continue to be destroyed—I have found myself continuing to think about the relationship between human rights and preservation. Why can’t we protect cultural heritage? It is not that international efforts haven’t been made; International Humanitarian Law seeks to balance humanitarian concerns with military necessity. Yet over and over again the world watches as cultural heritage is destroyed—often in dramatic and defiant ways. Most of the perpetrators will never be charged, let alone tried.

This destruction is sometimes described as cultural genocide. The term genocide was coined by jurist and human rights advocate Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959). It is based on the Greek word genos (race, tribe) and the Latin caedere (killing). (See his 1944 book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation, Analysis of Government, Proposals for Redress, 2nd ed. [Clark, NJ: The Lawbook Exchange, 2008, pp. 79-95.) He meant for genocide to correspond to such words as homicide, infanticide, fratricide, and so on. In Axis Rule Lemkin identified eight components of genocide, which he reduced to three when he was campaigning for a Genocide Convention: physical, biological, and cultural.

Significantly, for Lemkin the term referred to human massacre as well as the destruction of a people’s art and culture. In other words, genocide represented crimes against humans as well as humanity. Lemkin was determined that genocide be adopted by the United Nations as the word to describe these crimes. And it was, in The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948). However, for reasons that I explain in my forthcoming book, Monumental Preservation, the term was defined more narrowly to refer only to mass killings and not the often concomitant crime of destroying the culture of the vanquished people. Since the framing of that U.N. document, and after Lemkin’s death, the term cultural genocide was coined to refer to the destruction of cultural heritage.

Cultural genocide is not yet recognised in international law

Cultural genocide per se is not yet recognised in international law. Yet that is beginning to change as international courts are recognizing that physical and biological attacks are often carried out in concert with the destruction of religious and/or cultural property (see Shamiran Mako, “Cultural Genocide and Key International Instruments: Framing the Indigenous Experience,” International Journal on Minority and Group Rights 19 [2012]: 175-94, about post WWII efforts to acknowledge the rights of indigenous peoples). It is probably only a matter of time before a case involving cultural genocide is successfully tried.

However, international laws will never stop the seemingly ongoing destruction of heritage sites. Nor will “soft power,” the attempt by organisations such as UNESCO “to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures, and peoples, based on respect for commonly shared values” (see the UNESCO website). And what if there are not always shared values? UNESCO has been criticised for promoting Western—even European—notions of heritage in the non-western world (e.g., Rodney Harrison, Heritage:Critical Approaches [London: Routledge, 2013]).

What if the group that sets out to destroy cultural heritage creates its own grand narrative about the importance of that destruction? For example, if one group seeks to impose its identity on another by destroying the culture of the vanquished group? Has UNESCO framed the notion of universally shared heritage in the most effective way? Every new country, era, civilization is the accretion of everything tangible and intangible that has come before. It will almost never be possible to completely vanquish that which has come before us.

Perhaps we can model preservation itself in a more nuanced way. Below are some of the motivations and behaviors associated with preservation, as well as some emerging approaches to preservation.

Motivations

  • Legal
  • Corporate (profit motive, e.g. Facebook, Inc.)
  • Corporate (legacy/history/pride/archives/records/memory)
  • Patriotic
  • Religious
  • Propagandistic
  • Governmental
  • Social [as distinct from cultural]
  • Personal (preserving family papers, mementos)
  • Administrative (legal or political mandate)
  • Deterministic (preservation as destiny)
  • Matriarchal/Patriarchal
  • Stewardship
  • Scholarly/academic
  • Save what we can profit most by
  • [Or destroy, for almost all of the above reasons]

Behaviours

  • Imperialist (we came, we saw, we conquered, we appropriated/expropriated cultural heritage objects)
  • Hording or clean-sweep approach: save everything you can
  • Last-ditch effort: save anything you can (war-time approach, or in historic preservation, wrecking-ball approach)
  • Save last copies
  • People’s choice: save the best (“doxa” or popular opinion)
  • Judgmental: save according to carefully delineated criteria
  • Elitist: we save what should be saved & for whom it should be saved
  • Principle of Least Effort : we won’t bother with it until we have to. (Or, we will save only that which has already deteriorated.)
  • Benign neglect (perhaps less intentional than the Principle of Least Effort)
  • Administrative: save what must be saved
  • Pragmatic: save at a measured rate
  • Stewardship: we have a responsibility to save
  • Save: but we continue to use it—and museums must understand that
  • Don’t save: it has fulfilled its earthly purpose
  • Don’t save: its survival is anathema to our beliefs
  • Don’t save: we have a right to destroy it

Emerging

  • Social networking: positive and negative (records destruction and promotes propaganda)
  • Personal Information Management (PIM)
  • Attempt to create true digital preservation
  • Reformatting into the future best forms of “preservation” for specific kind of data audiences
  • Enhanced tools for documentation
  • New tools for community engagement and outreach
  • [For example, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear 3/11/11 disaster, in which citizens
  • recovered thousands of photographs on land and in the water, and put them up on the web. In some instances families and their photos have been reunited.] These are some of the ways in which I have tried to situate preservation on the global stage. I welcome your feedback about other ways in which we can think about the role of preservation in our lives.

These are some of the ways in which I have tried to situate preservation on the global stage. I welcome your feedback about other ways in which we can think about the role of preservation in our lives.

Michele Valerie Cloonan is Dean Emerita and Professor at the Graduate School of Library & Information Science, Simmons College.9781856049467

You can find out more about Michele’s book, Preserving our Heritage, here.

Follow Preservation Week on Twitter using the hashtag  and look out for our other author interviews that we will be releasing throughout the week.

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References

Image sources:

henry-dunant-francis-lieber.jpg” by CILIP is used under CC BY-SA 2.0. It is a derivative of the following works:

Giant standing Buddhas of Bamiyan still cast shadows [Image 2 of 8]” by DVIDSHUB, used under CC BY 2.0 / original cropped and resized

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Art and design librarians of the world, read on, you have nothing to lose but your innocence

The second edition of The Handbook of Art and Design Librarianship edited by Paul Glassman and Judy Dyki is out now.

Copy of Hamilton & Saunderson

Since the publication of the first edition of this handbook, the world of art and design libraries has been rocked by rapid advances in technology, an explosion in social media, the release of new standards and guidelines, shifts in the materials and processes of contemporary art, innovative developments in publishing models, expanding roles of librarians, new perspectives surrounding library spaces, and the evolving needs and expectations of art and design students.

Revised and updated with mostly new chapters, The Handbook of Art and Design Librarianship provides an accessible guide to librarians working in art and design environments who need to support and anticipate the information needs of artists, designers, architects and historians who study those disciplines.

The authors said,

“The handbook delineates roles and responsibilities for art and design librarians, offers guidelines for materials and collections management, reviews best practice in teaching and learning, and presents innovative approaches to knowledge creation, library spaces and promotion and sustainability.”

Clive Phillpot, former Director of the Library at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, said,

“The contributors to this book are writing from the front line. So, art and design librarians of the world, read on, you have nothing to lose but your innocence.”

The book is out now and will be essential reading for students taking library and information science courses in art librarianship, special collections, and archives, as well as practising library and information professionals in art and design school libraries, art museum libraries and public libraries.

Paul Glassman is Director of University Libraries and Adjunct Instructor of Architectural History and Design at Yeshiva University.

 Judy Dyki is Director of Library and Academic Resources at Cranbrook Academy of Art and Editor of Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America.

Foreword by Clive Phillpot, Fermley Press, London (formerly Director of the Library, Museum of Modern Art, New York).

The book is published by Facet Publishing and is available from Bookpoint Ltd | Tel: +44 (0)1235 827702 | Fax: +44 (0)1235 827703 | Email: facet@bookpoint.co.uk | Web: www.facetpublishing.co.uk. | Mailing Address: Mail Order Dept, 39 Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4TD. It is available in North America from the American Library Association.

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Practical guidance for valuing objects in cultural collections

Facet Publishing have announced the release of Freda Matassa’s new book Valuing Your Collection: A practical guide for museums, libraries and archives

Assigning a financial value to a cultural object is always difficult, as there is no right answer. It is one of the many tasks of the curator, whether they work in a gallery, museum, archive or library, yet it is a role for which few have had any traChambers Cat 2.02.qxdining and that many approach with a lack of confidence. Even if there is a profound knowledge of the subject matter, there may be insufficient experience in the market for cultural objects. However, although it may not be easy, it has to be done.

In Valuing Your Collection, collections management expert Freda Matassa examines the issues around valuing objects in cultural collections, describing current practice in museums, libraries and archives, and giving practical advice on how to assign values. Matassa looks at the difference between value and worth and at how cultural value can be translated into monetary terms. She outlines the arguments over whether financial values should be assigned at all and provides guidance on how to approach a valuation by making comparisons and using a step-by-step process for which templates for a wide range of collections are provided.

Matassa said,

Valuation is fraught with difficulties for cultural collections. Finance is not their core business. Curators have little or no training and are reluctant to mention money as it may detract from significance. My book is designed to give the non-specialist confidence in their decision making.

Freda Matassa FRSA MA (Hons) DipAL DipEd is a well-known UK expert on collections management who advises, teaches and lectures internationally. Currently Director of Matassa Toffolo, a museum-standard art consultancy, former Head of Collections Management at Tate Galleries and co-founder of the European Registrars Conference, she is expert adviser on several European projects for museum standards and to the Minister of Culture on Immunity from Seizure. She was named one of the Top 50 Women to Watch in the arts and is the author of Museum Collections Management (Facet, 2011) and Organizing Exhibitions (Facet, 2014).

Sign up to our mailing list to hear more about new and forthcoming books. Plus, receive an introductory 30% off a book of your choice – just fill in your details below and we’ll be in touch to help you redeem this special discount:*

*Offer not available to customers from USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Asia-Pacific

Management of cultural heritage information: policies and practices

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Image source: ‘Printing the pase: 3-D archaeology and the first Americans’ by Flickr user Bureau of Land Managment Oregon and Washington https://www.flickr.com/photos/blmoregon/

As the iConference 2017 continues this week, we’ve made a new chapter, written by one of the conference chairs Gobinda Chowdhury, freely available to view and download from the Facet Publishing website.

The chapter, Management of cultural heritage information: policies and practices, is taken from the 2015 book Cultural Heritage Information, edited by Gobinda and Ian Ruthven. The chapter includes discussion of:

  • some of the policies and guidelines for digitization that form the foundation of digital libraries of cultural heritage information
  • the social, legal and policy issues involved with managing digital cultural heritage and their implications
  • the provenance and digital rights management issues associated with cultural heritage information.

You can view or download the free chapter here.

Cultural Heritage Information is the first book in the iResearch series. Edited by Gobinda Chowdhury, iResearch is a peer-reviewed monograph series supports the vision of the iSchools and creates authorative sources of information for research and scholarly activities in information studies. Each book in the series addresses a specific aspect or 9781856049306emerging topic of information studies and provides a state-of-the-art review of research in the chosen field and addresses the issues, challenges and progress of research and practice.

Find out more about the book Cultural Heritage Information.

Find our more about the iResearch series.

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The case for open heritage data

open

An open access chapter from Henriette Roued-Cunliffe and Andrea Copeland’s new book Participatory Heritage is now available to view and download from the Facet Publishing website.

In this chapter, Henriette Roued-Cunliffe argues the case for open heritage data as a means to facilitating participation in heritage now and in the future. Three case studies feature in the chapter:

  1. Europeana APIs
  2. Vindolanda Tablets Online II
  3. Hack4DK in Denmark.

Participatory Heritage demonstrates how heritage institutions can work with community-based heritage groups to build broader, more inclusive and culturally relevant collections.

More information about the book and the open access chapter are available on the Facet website.

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How can heritage institutions work with their communities to build broader, more inclusive and culturally relevant collections?

Facet Publishing have announced the release of Participatory Heritage, edite9781783301232.jpgd by Henriette Roued-Cunliffe and Andrea Copeland

 The internet as a platform for facilitating human organization without the need for organizations has, through social media, created new challenges for cultural heritage institutions. Challenges include but are not limited to: how to manage copyright, ownership, orphan works, open data access to heritage representations and artefacts, crowdsourcing, cultural heritage amateurs, information as a commodity or information as public domain, sustainable preservation, attitudes towards openness and much more.

 Participatory Heritage uses a selection of international case studies to explore these issues. It demonstrates that in order for personal and community-based documentation and artefacts to be preserved and included in social and collective histories, individuals and community groups need the technical and knowledge infrastructures of support that formal cultural institutions can provide. In other words, both groups need each other.

The editors said, “It is our hope that this book will help information and heritage professionals learn from others who are engaging with participatory heritage communities”.

Henriette Roued-Cunliffe, DPhil is an Assistant Professor at the Royal School of Library and Information Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. She teaches and researches heritage data and information, and in particular how DIY culture is engaging with cultural heritage online and often outside of institutions. Her website is: roued.com.

Andrea Copeland is an Associate Professor in the Department of Library and Information Science in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University, Indianapolis. Her research focus is public libraries and their relationship with communities, with a current emphasis on connecting the cultural outputs of individuals and community groups to a sustainable preservation infrastructure.

Should we equate preservation of cultural heritage with human rights?

temple-baal-shamin-libraries-times-crisis

Michele Cloonan, Dean Emirata and Professor at the Graduate School of Library & Information Science, Simmons College and editor of Preserving our Heritage :  Perspective from antiquity to the digital age, writes about the destruction of cultural heritage in a new blog for CILIP. An extract is below:

While most of us don’t equate preservation with human rights, the relationship has been touched on at least as early as the nineteenth century —although the destruction of cultural heritage has taken place for as long as there has been heritage. In the nineteenth century the concept of human rights was considered in the context of war. Swiss businessman and reformer Henri Dunant was an organiser of the First Geneva Conference for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded Armies in the Field (1863-64) and a founder of the Red Cross (see his Memory of Solferino [Geneva, Switzerland: International Committee of the Red Cross, 1986]).

At just about the same time as these activities were taking place in Europe, Francis Lieber, a German jurist who settled in the United States, prepared for the Union Army General Orders No. 100: Instructions for the Government of the Armies of the United States in the Field, better known as the Lieber Code; it established rules for the humane treatment of civilians in areas of conflict and forbade the execution of prisoners of war. Further it sought the protection of works of art, scientific collections, and hospitals in war-torn areas. These ideas were further developed in the Hague Peace Conferences that were held from 1899-1907 and in the later Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954 and the 1999 Second Protocol). Excerpts of these codes, conventions, and protocols are included in chapter 9 of my books Preserving Our Heritage: Perspectives from antiquity to the digital age (London: Facet, 2015).

Read the full blog on the CILIP website.