Uppsala University: Cultural Heritage in Conflict

Last May I visited Yorkshire as part of an ITP legacy project  on Planning and Sustainability. It was just like where a hobbit would live; green surrounding the entire landsape, and the fresh air embracing us along the journey.  This year led me to an Elven heaven in Visby, Uppsala University’s Campus in Gotland,  surrounded by magical natural and built scenery in a world heritage town.

The conference my ITP colleague Shadia and I attended was on Cultural Heritage in Conflict. Thanks to the ITP and Uppsala University, I was able to realise a first step in a dream that I have had for the past couple of years, where people from different areas in the world work together towards diverse cultural landscapes, not only in theory but also in practice. My friends and colleagues Marko Barisic, Gustav Wollentz and I presented our work on cultural heritage: Youth, Dignity and Temporal Art in Post-war Mostar by merging our areas of expertise. We aspired to expand our horizons and become more dynamic as an active generation believing in a future that could be more inclusive, and portray cultural diversity through the idea of Dignity. Hence, a quote from our paper:

What we hope to have shown here, is the need to discuss heritage, not only through economical or political lenses, or through issues concerning identity or ethnicity, but also through something more universal and at the same time more basic: every human beings’ need and fight for his or her own dignity as a human being, and the role the heritage can play in such a struggle as an empowering factor.

The conference in itself was intriguing. We had the opportunity to communicate and interact within the global context of cultural heritage, share our ideas and opinions amongst great scholars and professors, where we could agree or disagree on issues such as the implications of terminology used for labelling  a conflict, such as the occupation of Palestine.

By the end of our two-day conference, we discussed universal human rights mechanisms: do they safeguard the cultural heritage of occupied, displaced peoples or even those in ‘normal’ environments? If so, how and if not, why not? Does this concept work as efficiently or as broadly as it should? These are some of the questions that were debated; including work on awareness, education, and registration and renovation while destruction is still on-going.