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What is Cultural Heritage? And for Whom?

  • EU Delegation to the U.S. 2175 K Street Northwest Washington, DC, 20037 United States (map)

Nov 10, 2015 Event Time: 3 PM - 5 PM

EU Delegation to the U.S., 2175 K Street, Washington DC, 20037 (entrance on the 22nd Street)

The EU Delegation to the U.S. will host an EU Rendez-Vous on the preservation of cultural heritage on November 10th. This program is part of the Iconoclash series, an initiative launched by EUNIC (the European Union National Institutes for Culture), supported by the EU Delegation and the John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress at New York University’s Washington branch. Nico Prucha’s participation has been made possible with support from the Austrian Cultural Forum, Embassy of Austria.


The destruction of elements of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Palmyra has stunned people around the world. Landmarks immediately recognizable from school textbooks across the globe are blown up before our eyes. Are those responsible for this material annihilation hoping somehow to obliterate their memories in pursuit of absolute sovereignty?

The diverse histories of ancient development of settlements, cities, principalities and cultures offer an element of hope in a world of crises and wars.  And yet they are being systematically attacked and destroyed. The devastation is intentional, ideologically motivated, and portrayed by the perpetrators as a declaration of war against established hegemonies and richly divergent cultures.  This attacks our basic understanding of cultural heritage, of peaceful coexistence despite religious and ideological differences, forcing us to ask: What is cultural heritage? And for whom?



  • David O’Sullivan, EU Ambassador to the U.S.


  • Rosemary Joyce, Professor of Anthropology with the University of California, Berkeley.

She received her degrees from Cornell University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Ph.D.). Rosemary Joyce is a member of the Federal Cultural Property Advisory Committee, which is part of the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and advises the president on the U.S. reaction to inquiries from foreign states asking for support in protecting their cultural heritage. Joyce is one of three members with expertise in archaeology, anthropology, ethnology, or related fields.

Joyce is concerned about the destruction of cultural heritage. In the 1990s she gave testimony on behalf of the Society for American Archaeology at a U.S. State Department hearing on cultural preservation in Honduras. She is teaching a course called “Cultural Policy: Cultural Heritage and Cultural Diplomacy” at the University of California Washington Center (UCDC) in fall 2015, introducing students to the broad implications of the control, management, investigation, presentation, and interpretation of collections of things considered of cultural significance.

Joyce has written numerous books, including Material Relations; Ancient Bodies, Ancient Lives; and The Languages of Archaeology.

  • Nico Prucha, Postdoctoral Researcher with a PhD in Arabic Language and Literature and Terrorism from the University of Vienna, Austria.

He is currently a Research Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at the Department for War Studies, King’s College London. He recently joined the ICSR after being awarded the VOX-Pol’s Research Fellowship under its Researcher Mobility Programme, and is currently researchingViral Aspects of Jihadism: The Lingual and Ideological Basis of Online Propaganda and the Spill Over to Non-Arabic Networks. His work for VOX-Pol at the ICSR also includes establishing a lexicon of Arabic keywords frequently used within Arabic and non-Arabic propaganda videos and writings.

Prucha’s work focuses on the analyses and deciphering of primary Arabic-language jihadist propaganda content on- and offline. He specializes in jihadi online activities related to Syria, Iraq and the organized opposition. Main aspects of his research cover the textual and audio-visual content of jihadist activity online and how the ideology in parts morphs from Arabic to English and German language clusters. Prucha’s research interests also lie in analyzing the blend of languages and elements employed in social media strategies by groups such as the “Islamic State” to incite and recruit, and the lingual and theological analysis of extremist Sharia law interpretation of hostage taking and executions, and how videos as well as social media outlets convey these acts.

  • Speaker representing the U.S. administration (name and function will be updated soon)


  • Emmanuel Kattan, director of the British Council’s New York office.

Kattan previously led Our Shared Future, a Carnegie-funded British Council initiative aimed at improving the public conversation on Muslim-West relations in the U.S. and Europe by providing hard facts and evidence-based arguments developed by a broad range of scholars and opinion leaders. Prior to joining the British Council, Kattan was Head of Communications at the UN Alliance of Civilizations and led the team which developed the Rapid Response Media Mechanism, an online tool connecting journalists with a wide network of experts on intercultural issues.

RSVP for Event


Nico Prucha:

Rosemary Joyce:

Emmanuel Kattan: