The Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Property
Saving the World’s Heritage
Luisa Benedettini Millington
Renowned for their rigorous investigative approach, the dedicated officers of the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Property (Carabinieri TPC) have recovered thousands of objects and built legal cases resulting in high profile repatriations of cultural property. Their actions have effectively changed an art market that previously depended upon theft and criminal behaviour. Italy is a nation that greatly values its ancient past alongside its artistic present, and it is this appreciation that has led to the creation of the world’s premier police force dedicated to law enforcement in the arts, heritage and archaeology. As the TPC’s dedicated officers work to protect every aspect of Italy’s rich cultural heritage, their organisation, training, approach, missions and successes offer valuable lessons for all who share the goal of protecting and recovering cultural property.
Laurie Rush is a Board Member of the US Committee of the Blue Shield, and employed as an archaeologist by the US army; Luisa Benedettini Millington is a Faculty member of the Community College of Vermont, US
For more information, please visit the publisher’s website: http://boydellandbrewer.com/store/viewItem.asp?idProduct=14845
Last week postgraduate researchers had the opportunity to present papers on their work at the annual ICCHS PGR conference. This year’s conference was split into three sessions, with themes of ‘Heritage in Action’, ‘Representation & Interpretation’ and ‘Organisational Structures and Practices’.
The first session, ‘Heritage in Action’, saw Carolyn Gibbeson presenting a paper entitled ‘Haunted Hospitals? Examining the redevelopment of historic former asylums’. Carolyn’s talk was fascinating, exploring factors involved in the re-use of these sites through data from three case studies. Brian Moss then presented his paper, ‘Help or Hindrance? Engaging with outdoor cultural heritage through smartphone based mobile digital interpretations’. Brian’s research looks at the use of MDI’s (Mobile Digital Interpretations) in relation to cultural heritage sites. The final paper of this session was given by Niki Black, whose paper, ‘Festivals and Heritage: Contributions to a Sustainable Future?’ considered the heritage connections which enable temporal, spatial and social links to be established and strengthened, and how these contribute to the social sustainability of their host communities. All in all, a thought provoking session.
The second session of the day, entitled ‘Representation and Interpretation’, was started off with Alistair Robinson’s paper entitled ‘Museums of modern and contemporary art in an age of ‘globalization’ “. Alistair examined how museums with increasingly stretched resources are nevertheless able to pursue expansionary agendas and enlarge their geopolitical purview, eliciting some interesting questions at the end of the session. Muhammad Ilmam Tharazi then presented on the topic of iconography and figurative representation in Islam. He discussed how museums respond to challenges relating to the display and interpretation of Islamic objects containing images and figurative representations. Finally, Rebecca Farley presented a paper looking at public art in Newcastle-Gateshead, through the use of interpretive frames. Rebecca’s paper discussed her data analysis work and looked in detail at examples of public art in the region and the approaches taken to interpreting these objects.
The final session of the day, ‘Organisational Structures & Practices’ began with a paper by Gemma Cardona-Gomez who discussed archaeological education in Catalonia. Gemma’s paper provided an overview of how archaeological education is approached in Catalonia and how she is going about her doctoral research on this topic. Jennifer Locke then presented a paper entitled ‘Organisational change in art museums and evolving practices of interpretation’. Jennifer’s paper discussed the shift in institutional practices involved in exhibition development and how these changes have influenced the interpretation of art objects. Lastly, Bethany Rex asked the audience to put their ‘theoretical hats’ on and presented a paper on using actor-network theory to understand how co-production is negotiated in the context of the public museum. A lively Q & A session followed this last session, and it was clear that the audience was interested and engaged.
Following the three conference sessions, Kat Lloyd gave a presentation on researchers engaging with communities, and a discussion session with Kat, Rhiannon Mason and Areti Galani followed. Overall the day was engaging and informative and we look forward to next year’s conference.
Today’s post is by Niki Black, ICCHS PhD researcher. Niki’s research focuses on investigating the impact which small-scale, rural festivals may have upon the social sustainability of their host communities. More info about Niki’s research can be found here. More info about the conference can be found here.
The African Heritage Challenges Conference, Cambridge
Just back from attending the African Heritage Challenges Conference (15 – 17 May) held at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), Cambridge University. The focus of the conference was on sustainability and development in African heritage with particularly attention being drawn by speakers to the potential contradiction of pairing heritage and development. This linked to another recurring discussion point of the conference, the contestable nature of the definition of heritage. This was interesting in considering if there are differences between the perception of heritage in African countries and between these countries and the West (in other words, the authorised discourse).
In the discussion which followed it was considered that, although on the surface there may appear to be very different issues at stake, many of the underlying considerations regarding heritage are similar (ownership, power, belonging for eg). Although some disagreement occurred between delegates regarding forms of heritage discourse, the majority of speakers appeared to confer on the selection of heritage and its subsequent management as needing to be led by the custodians of the heritage. As to considerations of whether heritage could contribute to sustainability, as long as heritage is seen as a concept of something ‘living’and adaptable, then it can be a positive contributor to sustainable development.
Join us this Saturday, 18 April, for a day of special events at Housesteads Roman Fort. There will be special talks, tours and activities, including a talk by Peter Stone.
Peter worked for UNESCO as part of the team that produce the World Heritage Education Project and kit, ‘World Heritage in Young Hands’, in the 1990s. He was also the Chair of the Hadrian’s Wall management plan committee. Peter’s talk will focus on the meaning of a World Heritage Site in the wider sense. Why are they classed with such importance and what is their importance in the wider world and in relation to the United Nations.
For more information on events of the day, please visit: http://tinyurl.com/mgbx8ab
Please join us for another in our series of research seminars:
The Visual Heritage of the Losing Side: Orphaned Souvenirs of the First World War
Speaker: Prof Mike Robinson, University of Birmingham
Wednesday 11 March
1 – 2pm
Room 1.06, 18 Windsor Terrace
Within the context of revived public interest in the First World War as part of the on-going centennial of the event there is much co-remembrance being performed in the collective realm. The memorials and cemeteries of the dead provide the material prompts and emotional signposts for commemoration. In addition there are countless personal objects – medals, letters etc. – that now help construct the narratives of the Great War Event. Drawing from a collection of vernacular photographs, this presentation examines images and objects from German soldiers and problematises them as dis-connected heritage of the First World War; objects with historical meaning but that exist outside of collective memory or at least a different conception of collective memory.
Short Biography – Professor Mike Robinson
Mike Robinson is Professor of Cultural Heritage at the University of Birmingham UK. He is also Director of the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage and Trustee of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and World Heritage Site. For the past 25 years Mike’s work has spanned the broad fields of heritage and tourism and he has published numerous books, articles and chapters on the various ways in which the realms of heritage and tourism collide. Recent books include Tourism and Emotion with David Picard (Ashgate), Encounters with Popular Pasts with Helaine Silverman (Springer) and World Heritage, Tourism and Identity (Ashgate). Mike has worked with UNESCO at national and international level relating to the agendas of World Heritage, tourism and sustainable development and cultural diversity. He is a former member of the Culture Committee of the UK National Commission for UNESCO and regularly advises on policy issues. He was a Government appointed member of the UK’s Expert Panel to determine the UK’s Tentative List for World Heritage and part of the UNESCO Expert Panel to assist with the development of a Programme in World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism. He is a former Visiting Professor at the Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia, Università degli Studi di Trento, Italy and is Visiting Professor at National Taiwan University and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Illinois. Mike has undertaken work on heritage and tourism in over 30 countries.
Rhiannon Mason and Peter Stone
On Wednesday 5 November 2014, ICCHS’s Peter Stone and Rhiannon Mason played a prominent part in the Heritage Alliance’s ‘Newcastle Heritage Debate 2014’, held at Newcastle University’s King’s Hall. The debate explored the highly topical issue of heritage and identity. ICCHS’s Kat Lloyd and several others live tweeted the event. Below is a snapshot of some of the tweets from the debate – click on the image to be taken to the full Storify story to see more.
Sharing Cultures 2013: the 3rd International Conference on Intangible Heritage took place in Aveiro, Portugal from 24 – 26 July. Attending the conference from ICCHS were PhD researchers Niki Black and Jared Bowers, who both presented papers.
Sharing Cultures aimed to push further the discussion on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), under the main topics proposed by the UNESCO Convention. In addition new fields of discussion were included this year, namely management and promotion of ICH, educational matters and musealization. The conference attracted delegates from many countries with a particularly strong presence from Australasia and America; attendance was unfortunately down from European countries which the organisers put down to the impact of the financial recession on research budgets across the continent. It was good to see representatives from African nations too and to be able to share directly discussion on the development of heritage initiatives in Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.
‘Salinas’ or salt harvesting lagoons, Aveiro
Niki presented a paper entitled ‘Making Connections: Festivals, ICH, people and places’ using data from her on-going doctoral research into small-scale cultural festivals and the social impact on their host communities, based upon case study events in Northumberland. The paper problematized the role and inclusion of ICH in festivals and examined how consistency and innovation, captured in the ICH of festivals, might potentially impact on host communities, through a network of connections made both spatially (sense of place) and temporally (sense of continuity) between the event, its host community and its respective indigenous culture.Jared presented a paper on his work in the Rupununi in Guyana.
In addition to a full and varied programme of presentations and discussions in a beautiful location, the conference organising committee laid on a full day of workshops and visits to heritage sites and projects in the area. The delegates were able to try their hand directly at many of the intangible heritage skills indigenous to that area of Portugal from salt harvesting to pottery and the making of ‘ovos moles’, the traditional cake of the region.