Day 1: 02.12.2022

Johanna Blokker, BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg: Between Consensus, Contestation and Conflict

Prof. Dr. Johanna Blokker holds the Chair in Architectural Conservation at Brandenburg University of Technology in Cottbus. As an historian of art and architecture she has long been concerned with the effects of (armed) conflict on our interpretation and handling of heritage: it was Germany’s wartime losses and its postwar reconstruction that first awakened her interest in questions of identity and the uses of the past in the present, and that brought her both to the field of conservation and to the country she now calls home. In 2012 she completed her doctorate at New York University with a study of reconstruction in Cologne after World War II, and how the city’s destroyed Romanesque churches were mobilized and appropriated in local processes of negotiating the past. As a postdoc in Heritage Conservation in Bamberg, she then went on to investigate the role of architecture and heritage in advancing the aims and interests of the United States during its occupation of Germany and the early years of the Cold War. This work was awarded the University of Bamberg Habilitation Prize for 2019.

In her research and teaching in Cottbus, Prof. Blokker continues to explore discourses of heritage as they relate to cultural and memory politics and to the contestation and conflict they inevitably involve. Her most recent work addresses the role of heritage in democratic processes, including those active in the debate over monuments to colonialism on the one hand, and threatened by the conservative cultural critique of right-wing groups on the other.



Alice Fabris:Cultural Heritage of Migrants: The Case of the Seizure of Japanese and German Cultural Institutions in Brazil During the Second World War

On 22 August 1942, Brazil had declared war against the Axis powers of Germany and Italy, and in July 1945, a declaration of war was issued against Japan. These Declarations had an impact on the Japanese, German and Italian migrant communities that lived at the time in Brazil. In this context, in 1942, the Brazilian government adopted the Law No. 4,166 of 11th March 1942 that stipulated that ‘the assets of cultural and recreational societies formed by German, Japanese and Italians may be used, in the public interest, with the authorization of the Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs.’ This contribution aims to analyze the seizure and the refusal to return two cultural institutions confiscated by the Brazilian government – the Japanese School of Santos and the German Lyra Foundation. The restitution of these institutions is still object of discussions in the Brazilian Parliament: School of Santos was returned to the Japanese community only in 2006 and the community of German migrants still fight for the restitution of the Foundation.

This contribution will explore the history of these migrant communities and the importance of these cultural institutions, the legality of the seizure, particularly according to Article 27 and Article 56 of the Regulation to the 1907 Hague Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, the reasons for the confiscation as well as for the refusal to return these institutions to the migrant communities.

The impact of the war on communities of migrants will thus be explored and compared to the obligations and policies for the protection of cultural heritage during an armed conflict in situ. If the International Protection of Cultural Property in times of Armed Conflict focus on the preservation of cultural property from belligerents’ direct actions, but the protection of cultural heritage of migrants seems to be neglected.


Alice Lopes Fabris holds a Ph.D. in Law by ENS Paris-Saclay/Institut des sciences sociales du Politique (France), with a scholarship from CAPES (Brazil). Her thesis dealt with “The notion of crimes against cultural heritage in International Law” and was defended in 2021. She also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Law by the Federal University of Minas Gerais Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), Belo Horizonte, Brazil.



Laurent Dissard, Université Fédérale Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées: Cultural Heritage and Human Rights in Eastern Turkey

UNESCO's earliest heritage efforts led to the adoption of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1972. A shift later occurs from tangible to intangible, and from "outstanding universal value" to "cultural diversity" and "human rights" in the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. There is a growing understanding today that heritage management must be in harmony with broader objectives of sustainable development including accommodating for cultural diversity and human rights. Turkey has ratified all of these (tangible and intangible) conventions and declarations, but nominations remain top-down by Ankara rather than bottom-up by "communities" as is now advocated by UNESCO. Even though it has ratified the 2003 convention, Turkey continues to operate in the 1972 paradigm ignoring many other recommendations. To adopt a human-rights approach to heritage protection in Eastern Turkey, where most human rights violations are linked to the ongoing conflict between the army and the PKK, or to even think about more practical ways to preserve the past, continues to raise red flags in Ankara. The breakdown of peace talks in 2015 between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) triggered a rise in violence across Eastern Turkey. On 28 November 2015, the human rights lawyer, Tahir Elçi, was assassinated in front of the four-footed minaret inside Diyarbakır’s historic center after delivering a speech calling for the end the conflict. The assassination was followed by the eviction of the city's population and complete razing of half of its center's rich architectural heritage. Diyarbakır and its adjoining Hevsel Gardens were nominated on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2015. The answer to this form of heritage destruction from heritage experts has been almost absent. In this paper, I take the 2015 UNESCO nomination of Diyarbakır and its subsequent 2016 destruction as a case study to reflect upon the links as well as the many paradoxes that exist between cultural heritage and human rights in Eastern Turkey in times of crises and conflict.


I am an anthropologist of Turkey and the Middle East specializing in Heritage, Memory and Museums Studies, as well as the Politics of Archaeology. I received my PhD from the Near Eastern Studies Department at the University of California, Berkeley ; an Andrew W. Mellon postdoc from the Wolf Humanities Center at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) ; and a Junior Research Fellowship from the Institute of Advanced Studies at University College London (UCL). I have taught the Anthropology, Archaeology, and History of the Middle East at Berkeley, Penn, UCL, and at Santa Monica College in California and Koç University in Istanbul. In the Department of European and International Relations at the University of Toulouse, I am in charge of writing European projects (Horizon Europe, Marie Curie, ERC, etc.) across the Social Sciences and Humanities. I am affiliated to the French Institute of Anatolian Studies (IFEA) in Istanbul, and to the Center for Turkish, Ottoman, Balkan, and Central Asian Studies (CETOBaC, UMR 8032, CNRS) of the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris.


Zainab Musa Shallangwa, University of Maiduguri, The Aftermath: Insights on the Complexities of Forced Displacement and the Preservation of Cultural Heritage

Crisis situations are oftentimes catastrophic, requiring both humanitarian and developmental emergency assistance for management. As such, a number of actors are involved in the crisis management process, including Non-Governmental Organizations, the government, as well as the victims. Extant body of literature has established that heritage in all its forms is disrupted in times of crisis. It is along this line of thinking that this paper argues that 'it is in the process of managing crisis situations that heritage disruption happens'. Therefore, the paper explores the effects of the Boko Haram crisis on the indigenous Kanuri traditional leadership system. The traditional leadership institution is to a large extent the custodian of indigenous cultural heritage. Therefore, an examination as the one proposed in this paper will underscore the roles the diverse actors in crisis management play and how the process in turn affects cultural heritage preservation negatively or positively, regardless. To achieve this, I will adopt an ethnographic qualitative research approach using in-depth interviews and focus group discussions to collect data that will provide empirical evidence on the effects of crisis on cultural heritage preservation.

The merit of this research approach lies in its ability to create room for a better understanding of the complexities of the phenomenon under investigation. This paper will identify the preservers and destructors of cultural heritage in the face of the Boko Harman crisis among IDPs of the Lake chad region of Borno State, settled in displaced persons’ camps in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. Key assumed finding of the paper is that the modification in the traditional leadership system post displacement has laid the foundation for the modification and in some cases complete loss of some aspects of the Kanuri cultural heritage.


Dr. Zainab Musa Shallangwa is a Lecturer in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria. She holds a Binational doctoral degree from the University of Hildesheim, Germany and the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria. She is a fellow of the DAAD Museums Lab 2022 and a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies (FRIAS), Germany. Her research interests so far are on migration, cultural change, forced displacement, gender and museum and heritage issues.


Galit Noga-Banai, Hebrew University Jerusalem: The Duration of Memory: Conflicts Surrounding the Rebuilding of the Bornplatz Synagogue

Since the autumn of 2020, questions regarding the proposal to rebuild Hamburg’s Bornplatz synagogue, next to the University of Hamburg in Grindelviertel, have aroused much debate. At first the issue was what kind of building should be constructed—a replica of the old synagogue or a modern construction? Since the original house of worship, inaugurated in 1906 with 1100 seats and a 40-meter-high cupola, was constructed in Neo-Romanesque style with gothic elements, a replica would be anachronistic today, but a unique modern edifice too would change the face of the neighborhood and the appearance of the university campus. Later, however, the debate came to focus on the question whether it was in fact legitimate to rebuild the synagogue (in whatever style) at the original location, since doing so would alter or destroy the ‘Synagogue Monument,’ a memorial designed by Margrit Kahl (1942-2009) to commemorate the old synagogue. The current chairman of the local Jewish community is preoccupied with the present community and its future rather than a memorial that was inaugurated in 1988.

His wish is to have a new synagogue on the spot. The local politicians are afraid of being viewed as antisemitic if they reject his proposal. The descendants of the members of the old community, however, are concerned that a new synagogue would erase the absence of the old one, and with it the memory of the old community; for them, the extant memorial, which traces the outline of the old shrine, emphasizes the tragedy of the old community and its absence. My paper will analyze the political interests involved in the debate and the conflicts between the current Jewish leaders and the descendants of the earlier community. In addition, it will shed light on the conflict raised in Israel as to whether or not Israeli or American Jews, including descendants of Jews from Hamburg, should have a say in a seemingly local German debate.


Galit Noga-Banai is a professor of art history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she lectures and writes on early Christian and medieval art. She is the author of  'The Trophies of the Martyrs: An Art Historical Study of Early Christian Silver Reliquaries' (Oxford University Press, 2008), and 'Sacred Stimulus: Jerusalem in the Visual Christianization of Rome' (Oxford University Press, 2018). Recently she has also become interested in modern and contemporary medievalism. Doing research for her book, which in the meantime was published as 'A Medievalist’s Gaze: Christian Visual Rhetoric in Modern German Memorials' (1950–2000) (Peter Lang, 2022), she came across the Synagogue Monument in Hamburg, and is involved with the efforts to save the memorial.


Aida Murtic, Heidelberg University: Sarajevo and its Historic Centre: Two Nomination Files and a War in Between

In November 1986, the World Heritage Committee deferred the nomination of the 'Historic Centre of the City of Sarajevo' submitted by the State Party Yugoslavia. Previously compiled ICOMOS evaluation did not recommend inscription of the site qualified as 'an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble of the Ottoman golden age in Europe,' additionally suggesting removing references to the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 and the outbreak of the First World War. The first nomination of the historic centre of Sarajevo for the UNESCO World Heritage List speaks about a failed attempt to place emphasis on one ideal period in city’s history, without acknowledging the continuity of use, and oscillations in the city biography.

Between 1992 and 1995, during the siege of the city, landmarks of Sarajevo were targeted by heavy artillery and systematically destroyed. While waiting for a reaction of the international community, local association of architects documented the destruction, developed solidarity networks, and sought to present the scope of urban disaster to the audiences abroad. It is truly tragic that we have become aware of the city’s great architectural wealth only after its destruction' stays written in the German version of the introduction to the exhibition Warchitecture that travelled around Europe in 1994. The second nomination for the World Heritage List that the State Party Bosnia and Herzegovina submitted in 1998 in the aftermath of the war was radically different and equally unsuccessful. 'Sarajevo - unique symbol of universal multi-culture and continual open city' as the nomination was framed, was more a prosaic text coming to terms with the complex character of the urban landscape rather than a document that could meet UNESCO’s sets of criteria.

This paper aims to provide an overview of heritage making practices shaped by conflicts and crises, shedding special lights on the treatment of continuity and change in historic urban areas. The analysis will trace how the process of (self)understanding multi-layered heritage of Sarajevo was shaped by both collective traumas and collective dreams.


Aida Murtić is a doctoral candidate in art history at the Heidelberg University affiliated to the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies (HCTS) and Institute for European Art History (IEK). Her doctoral project on histories of urban transformations of the marketplace of Sarajevo was conceptualized within the framework of the Cluster of Excellence 'Asia and Europe in a Global Context' and was awarded a fellowship of the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz.
Aida holds diploma degree in architecture from the University of Sarajevo and joint MSc degree in urban development from TU Darmstadt and University Grenoble Alpes. As an architect, she worked on a number of projects of post-war reconstruction of cultural and historic heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Ivan Kislenko, University of Graz, Sociological Heritage Re-considered: Isolationist Aspirations in Russian Sociology

This report critically looks at debates about the rise of indigenous sociology in Russia and reconsideration of sociological heritage according to the isolationist aspirations of the state. It builds upon international discussions about the variability of sociological practices in the world. Against the background of discussions about ‘northern’ and ‘southern’ epistemologies, the focus will be on the particularities of the specific intellectual traditions in Russia and ongoing debates about the need to enhance indigenous isolationist knowledge forms. This presentation will first explain the historical and political contexts in Russian sociology. The nature of the tensions between Western and local orientations of Russian sociologists will also be discussed. Both printed texts and archival material have been used to trace the configuration of Russian sociology as a scientific endeavor and the transformation of perception of sociological heritage in country. In the next step, and against the background of claims about unity and universality of science, discussions about the legitimacy of different indigenous/national sociologies will be examined more closely.
The current political situation in Russia and Russia's War in Ukraine forces us to look closer to the issue of how Russian sociological community was reconsidering its sociological heritage during the last decades and how it connects to the idea that such aspirations are truly Russian indigenous sociology. Some sociological schools are working on production of the idea of the unique Russian sociology which is different from Western version and should work as the ideological background for current political regime. These ideas surprisingly coincide with counter-hegemonic ideas in sociology. The additional aim of this report to demonstrate that not everything which is counter-hegemonic works for the development of the discipline. The last section of the report will be devoted to an evaluation of the indigenous projects in Russia and an in-depth discussion of the position of Russian sociology with global sociology. This report also refers to the western discourse of social sciences in Russia and its eventual failure.


Ivan Kislenko holds a PhD degree in Sociology from HSE University (Moscow, Russia) and Ghent University (Ghent, Belgium). His research interests are global sociology, global production of knowledge in sociology, national and indigenous sociologies, academic dependence, and the history of the pleas for the decolonization of sociology. Ivan has published several articles in peer-review journals. The most significant among them is 'Debates on Global Sociology: ‘Unity and Diversity’ of Interpretations' // The American Sociologist, vol. 52, no. 3 pp. 579–590. He was a visiting researcher at the Centre for Social Theory (Ghent University) with a short-term Erasmus+ fellowship for doctoral students and a research assistant at the Centre for Fundamental Sociology (HSE University). Ivan was a Fulbright Affiliate Research Fellow at George Mason University (2021-2022). Currently, he is a Visiting fellow at the University of Graz.


Day 2: 03.12.2022

Sara Dal Monico, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice: The Fine Line between Cultural Genocide and Ecocide: The Destruction of Natural Heritage

In times of war and conflict, the destruction of natural heritage seems to be inevitable, yet rather unnoticed. Indeed, recent events amounting to harsh conflicts have demonstrated that the destruction of natural heritage is a topic which remains silent, despite the significant and severe consequences that its destruction might have on a community and on their identity for instance. The international legal order has long recognised the intrinsic and fundamental value of natural heritage and fostered the notion that the clear cut between natural and cultural heritage is not that clear after all. The systematic destruction of cultural heritage, as well as that of natural heritage, have been recognised by legal scholars as serious crimes thus deserving criminal prosecution at the international level. The original conceptualization of Lemkin of the crime of genocide showed at the centre of this notion the concept of cultural genocide. Still, the crime of cultural genocide is not included within the definition of genocide as provided for by the Statute of the ICC.

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the connection between natural and cultural heritage and to understand whether the systematic destruction of natural heritage can either amount to cultural genocide, by adopting a more holistic approach to the concept of heritage, or whether it can be included within the notion of the crime of ecocide. This is a concept recently introduced by legal scholars, entailing unlawful or wanton acts committed with the knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of them resulting in either widespread or long-term destruction of the environment.


Sara Dal Monico is an Italian PhD junior researcher in International and European Union Law at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, attending a PhD in 'Law, Market and Person'. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Languages,  she is fluent in English, Spanish and German, and she obtained a Master’s Degree in Comparative International Relations (cum laude) at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice with a dissertation on biopiracy and the cultural rights of indigenous people. Her research project concerns a comparative analysis of the EU and the EAEU and integration prospects of Western Balkan countries. Apart from the law of international organisations, her research interests include human rights law (cultural rights, indigenous peoples’ rights, and rights of nature) as well as international environmental law.


Nelly Bekus, Exeter University, Criminalisation of Cultural Heritage Destruction in Post- World War II Order: Perspective of Socialist States

The paper will discuss the interplay between major factors in the formation of new legal discourses on the protection of cultural heritage in armed conflict after the second world war. It will trace back the difference between socialist and western nations in their approaches to a culture as a new field of humanitarian law. Drawing on the archival material, the paper will use the discussion at UNESCO on the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict to examine three main questions: how the war experience of socialist states shaped their efforts for protecting national cultures in future conflicts; how the context of emerging Cold War affected the idea of protecting culture as a peacebuilding enterprise; to what extent the heritage protection legislation both reflected conflicting interests and served as a ground for common initiatives. 


Nelly Bekus is a scholar with interests in state and nation-building under socialism and post-socialism, the role of cityscape in the construction of post-socialist identity, and the religious and the ethno-linguistic landscape in post-Soviet nations. She completed her PhD in 2007 at the Graduate School for Social Research, Polish Academy of Sciences, worked as an Assistant Professor at the University of Warsaw (2008-2012), and is currently an Associate Research Fellow in the History Department at the University of Exeter.


Gruia Bădescu, University of Konstanz: A new Charter for Heritage: ICOMOS and the Redefinition of Policy and Practice in the Aftermath of Conflict and Beyond

In the aftermath of Palmyra’s partial destruction, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) embarked on a process to draft a new charter for reconstruction of heritage after what they defined as ‘traumatic events’.  Building on the author’s participation as an invited expert on reconstruction at the meetings in Paris, this paper analyses the context in which the preparation of this charter emerged, as well as examines guidelines proposed by ICOMOS. Moreover, it highlights how they depart from established heritage practices and policies, as well as understandings of ‘authenticity’. First, it examines the rationale for the new guidelines as expressed by the ICOMOS committee, focused on the specificity of the post-war condition in rebuilding heritage sites. It discusses the call by ICOMOS that all heritage sites have a prepared resilience plan, and traces it to concerns about the possibility of conflict and traumatic events.  
Second, the paper outlines different claims and conflicting visions on rebuilding sites destroyed by war. It mediates arguments articulated at the committee meetings with key insights from the author’s research on rebuilding heritage in Sarajevo and Beirut, also presented at the ICOMOS meeting.  

As such, the paper discusses how different field experiences of rebuilding heritage complicate the establishment of general guidelines for reconstruction. It underlines how the understanding of local context and meanings of heritage is key in sensitive decision-making regarding reconstruction after war. Finally, it shows how concerns about conflict and other traumatic events impact the vision for general heritage practices.


Gruia Bădescu is a Research Fellow at the Zukunftskolleg, University of Konstanz. He holds a PhD in Architecture from the  University of Cambridge (Centre of Urban Conflicts Research), and, before Konstanz, he was a lecturer and research associate at the University of Oxford. His research examines the relationship between heritage reconfigurations and political change in the aftermath of war (post-war reconstruction) and political violence (sites of memory after dictatorship).  He is co-editor of the volume `Synchronous Pasts: Transforming heritage in the former Yugoslavia´ (2021) and  he is now completing a monograph tracing the relationship between architectural reconstruction and dealing with the past in the 20th century.


Mischa Gureghian Hall, University of California Los Angeles: Can Statutes Save Statues? A Critical Assessment of International Legal Protections for Cultural Heritage During Armed Conflict

Since the first conception of the ‘laws of war,’ the protection of cultural heritage has been a subject international law has seemed to consider in a dismissingly cursory context. While international humanitarian law has dealt at great length with the protection of civilians in conflict, cultural property has consistently manifested as a peripheral concern. In contemporary international criminal law, the wanton destruction of cultural heritage sites is appraised not for its effect on the people whose heritage it forms an integral part of but rather as a mere transgression of the laws and customs of war. This paper works to reconceptualize the legal framework surrounding cultural property destruction by highlighting its effects on the rights of peoples to practice and honor their religion, history, and culture freely and securely. Drawing extensively from the jurisprudence of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, this paper presents crimes against cultural property within the preview of the crime against humanity of persecution—a label far too sparingly applied to such offenses in past instances. The paper situates this argument within the contours of contemporary developments concerning cultural heritage during armed conflict, including the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Al Mahdi case, the ICC Prosecutor’s 2021 policy guide on cultural heritage destruction, and the International Court of Justice’s provisional measures in Armenia v. Azerbaijan. Victimizing the collective cultural heritage of humankind, cultural property destruction not only ‘shocks the conscience of mankind,’ as crimes against humanity are generally said to, but almost always forms part of a broader coordinated persecutory program against a particular cultural group. Rethinking the place of cultural property crimes in international criminal law now only allows for more effective prosecutions but also contributes to the proper appreciation of the irreparable harm done to the intangible fabric of whole peoples’ identities.


Mischa Gureghian Hall is an undergraduate researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is a member of the Center for Truth and Justice, a human rights non-governmental organization collecting testimonial evidence from victims of mass atrocity crimes and presenting such evidence at international bodies. His research interests include international humanitarian law and its interplay with human rights law during international armed conflict. He serves as the UCLA Powell Library Research and Writing Specialist on Modern Political Violence. Mischa has previously presented as part of delegations to international organizations, including the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. He is currently an executive editor at the UCLA Undergraduate Law Journal and works with the Ronald W. Burkle Center for International Relations at UCLA.



Edward Salo, Arkansas State University: Taking their heritage and their stories: How Russia has “weaponized” heritage sites as part of its information warfare campaign against Ukraine

From the battlefields of Syria to Ukraine to the peaceful Buddhist temples of Southeast Asia, cultural heritage is being used by nations and non-nation actors as weapons in hybrid war or as a way to project power. These actions can range from the destruction of certain heritage sites to the restoration of other sites. Both of these actions can further national interests. One nation that has been active in the weaponization of heritage in its hybrid warfare campaigns against former Soviet-bloc allies is Russia. This paper will examine how Russia has 'weaponized' heritage as another weapon in hybrid or irregular warfare. Russia has used such tactics as the systematic destruction of heritage sites as a weapon in irregular warfare to destroy cultural ties that bind people together, destroy morale, and also destabilize a region by illustrating that the government cannot protect the people or what they hold important. Moreover, Russian forces have targeted non-Ukrainian heritage sites to try and erase the multi-cultural narrative that goes against the Russian claims of a homogeneous Russian state.

Finally, some nations do not destroy, but rather assimilate another nation’s heritage as a means to erode the nationalism of a people, and also make it easier for outside nations to accept territorial claims that are based on 'history' or a 'common heritage.' This paper will examine how Russia has been doing all of these tactics in Ukraine since the invasion in 2014.


Edward Salo, Ph.D. is an associate professor of history and the associate director of the Heritage Studies Ph.D. Program at Arkansas State University. Dr. Salo teaches courses on the management of heritage, historic preservation, and public history. He is currently chairing 12 Ph.D. dissertations on topics ranging from protection of libraries in war to examination of Buddhist architecture in majority-Muslim countries. Before coming to A-State, he served as a consulting historian for cultural resources management firms for 14 years where I worked on over 250 projects across the world including an administrative history of the Corps of Engineers' efforts to dispose of Iraqi munitions after the 2003 invasion, the preparation of histories of Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine installations across the globe including Japan, Cuba, and Guam, and the preparation of a document to support JPAC operations in the Hurtgen Forest to identify the location of the remains of MIA soldiers from the 28th Infantry Division. Since coming to A-State, Dr. Salo has been active in the examination of the protection and use of heritage during times of conflict, including producing several articles and presentations that examine the topic.


Zoya Masoud, TU Berlin: A vivid victory over a ghost city: discourses of heritage and memory preservation in the shade of the Syrian war

The old city of Aleppo has been on the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger since 2013, as it was located directly on the front lines of the Syrian war between 2012 and 2016 and suffered severe damage. The infra-state conflict turned the old city into a no-man’s-land, where buildings were detached from the historical and architectural meanings to be used as an arena for guerrilla warfare or indiscriminating shelling. Responding to this acute destruction, heritage experts and practitioners engaged in individual or institutional efforts to collect information, establish archives, assess damages, and design emergency interventions, to preserve the cultural heritage of Aleppo. These measurements were scientific. However, funding from Europe and Northern America supported only projects within rebel-held areas and groups or individuals working in the regime-held areas. Therefore, cooperation on the institutional level did not occur since western sanctions boycotted the Assad regime. Thus, many initiatives to safeguard Aleppine heritage lacked physical access to the ground, which encouraged remoted digitised preservation methods. After the regime’s loyal militants declared their victory in Aleppo in December 2016, the Assad government opened the door to international organisations to invest in reconstructing the World Heritage Site.

Pro-regime media campaigns illustrated the old city of Aleppo rising out of the ashes, and the regime profiled itself as the saviour of universal cultural heritage. The whole scene on cultural heritage preservation in government- and rebel-held areas was transmitted nationally and internationally through social media and reached Aleppines in Aleppo and diaspora on a daily base. Within the Aleppine’s communities, calls for grief and public mourning of some monuments in social media groups were getting more intense and louder.

This contribution discusses how the Syrian war influenced the practice of heritage preservation locally and globally. It questions the process(es) of politicising heritage to legitimise war victory and manifest power over urban heritage. Furthermore, it examines how groups of Aleppines internalised such discourses of heritage preservation and how they dealt with their personal loss as part of international mourning on the World Heritage Site of Aleppo.


Zoya Masoud studied architecture and urban planning in Damascus, Hamburg and Dar es Salaam. Before the beginning of the Syrian war, she worked on different restoration projects in the old city of Aleppo and Damascus. Since 2015, she has been an associated researcher in various cultural and research institutions like the German Archaeological Institute (Project: 3D Modell des Aleppo-Basars: Denkmalpflege aus der Ferne), the Brandenburg University of Technology in Cottbus (Project: Aleppo Archive im Exil), and the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin (Projects: Syrian Heritage Archive Project, Multaka Project, Crossroads Aleppo Project). She was a lecturer in 2021 at the Technical University of Berlin. Currently, she is finishing her PhD research within the DFG Research Training Group 'Identity and Heritage' at the Technical University of Berlin, Institute of Urban and Regional Planning.


Ilya Sulzhytski, University of Greifswald: The Influence of 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine on the Debates over Babyn Yar Memorial and the Holocaust Heritage

On February 24, 2022, Russia's military invasion of Ukraine began. Since the start of the war, people in different countries on different continents have been closely following events happening in Ukraine. Many ethical and humanitarian issues have been raised during this war, such as war crimes, genocide, refugees, guilt, and responsibility. The topic of heritage was also reflected in this war.

In my research, I intend to reveal how the situation of war influences the heritage and memory discourse, using the example of the Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial in Ukraine. On March 1st, 2022, Ukrainian authorities reported a missile strike on the Babyn Yar during the shelling of Kyiv. This information caused a spark in media activity about Babyn Yar: its history, its place in Holocaust memory, and its role in making sense of the war and war crimes past and present.

I use data from Google Trends about searches for Babyn Yar to show which events sparked user interest in the memorial during the last five years to reveal this activity. Next, I analyse the top google news articles on March 1, 2022, to see the narratives and debates about legacy and Babyn Yar that emerged from this background. Finally, I analyse the dynamics of media activity on Babyn Yar from March 1, 2022, to April 20, 2022.

I use Python programming language, natural language processing methods, and qualitative content analysis and discourse analysis in my research. During my presentation, I want to examine the provocative thesis that Babyn Yar became rediscovered, publicly visible only as a target of military aggression and a resource in the meaning-making process during the war.


I am a Sociologist (Ph.D. in Sociology, 2019) with a research focus in computational social science and digital sociology, interested in memory studies and cultural sociology. I am now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Greifswald (Germany), studying the possibilities of computational social science in understanding cultural heritage and
Holocaust memory.


Oxana Gourinovitch, RWTH Aachen: Sharing the Loss: Notes on the transnational heritage activism during the war in Ukraine

The paper summarizes the author's ongoing involvement with the rescue of the dissonant and contested heritage during the war in Ukraine, and evaluates the collected experiences.

As the destruction of cultural assets appears to be a part of the Kremlin's strategy to ‘erase’ Ukraine as independent sovereign state, the Ukrainians race to save their cultural heritage. For the museums and prominent monuments, there are established protocols, usually dating back to Soviet times, on what museums should do in case of armed conflict.

A lack of time and resources jeopardise their implication, yet the largest cultural institutions and landmarks receive considerable support from both national and international organisations and funds. The pace of the race is considerably slower for the less prominent cultural institutions, such as smaller regional museums, or architectural archives and libraries, which have already been largely neglected by state cultural policies during the prewar decades. The fate of the objects of 'dissonant' heritage – the architectural and artistic legacy of the Soviet period – is even more dramatic.

Since 2015, the Soviet cultural heritage in Ukraine has been subjected to the 'decommunisation' laws, which led to its ultimate stigmatisation in public opinion, accompanied by a demolition of many unique representatives of the epoch. During the war, the Ukranian Soviet heritage poses as a target not only for the Russian army, but also for their own cultural policies, whose hostility towards this heritage has only been accelerated by the association of anything Soviet with Russian colonialism.

Thus, the rescue of the dissonant heritage became a domain of heritage activists. Since the mid 2010s, in a counter-reaction to the destructive cultural stance of the state, the Ukrainian cultural community developed a number of civic initiatives, who filled the considerable gaps in the national heritage discourse. The initiatives' operation has been supported by the expertise and enthusiasm of transnational networks of professionals and civic activists. The paper examines the role of such civic practices and their transnational networks in times of a military conflict.


Oxana Gourinovitch is architectural historian, architect and curator; currently a senior researcher at the RWTH Aachen University. Trained as architect at the University of Arts in Berlin, she worked in Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Berlin. Her PhD-research she conducted as a fellow of the Graduiertenkolleg ‘Identity and Heritage’ at the TU Berlin and the Bauhaus-University in Weimar. She is member of ICOMOS Belarus. Her recent and current research concerns the Soviet architectural production and heritage management, and their post-Soviet continuities.