Schedule - The Politics of Preservation

Friday April 29, 2016

Morris Hall
Chicago-Kent College of Law
565 West Adams Street
Chicago, IL 60661 [map and directions]

Conference home page
Conference speakers



Continental Breakfast


Welcome and Opening Remarks


Keynote Address

Daniel BluestoneProfessor of History of Art & Architecture; Director of the Preservation Studies Program, Boston University

Preservation Desire and the Kindness of Strangers




Panel One: Origins

Patty GerstenblithDistinguished Research Professor of Law; Director of the Center for Art, Museum & Cultural Heritage Law, DePaul College of Law

The Origins of the Cultural Heritage Debate in the Turn of the Nineteenth Century — The origins of the contemporary debate among museum professionals, market participants, archaeologists, countries of origin and others as to the appropriate disposition of cultural objects reach back to at least the mid-eighteenth century with the Enlightenment and the founding of the British Museum in 1753. Events in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, including the French Revolution, Napoleon's dispossession of cultural artifacts from throughout Europe and Egypt, the taking of the Parthenon Sculptures to the UK, and the development of archaeology as a science set the terms of the modern discourses of the rescue narrative, national ownership of cultural objects, and the importance of archaeological context in reconstructing the past. Through an exploration of these discourses we can better understand the contemporary cultural heritage debate and perhaps seek their reconciliation.

Carolyn PurnellVisiting Assistant Professor and the Jack Miller Center Postdoctoral Fellow, IIT Lewis College of Human Sciences

The Heritage of the Future: Preservation and Patrimony at the Jardin du Roi — This paper will investigate how natural historical endeavors undertaken at the Jardin du Roi in the late eighteenth century informed contemporary concepts of French identity. The desires of the naturalists, social reformers, and political figures involved at the Jardin were often at odds with one another, and their protracted debates lay bare different perspectives on how cultural heritage could affect fundamental notions of Frenchness. This paper will consider how colonial knowledge, scientific achievement, state prerogatives, and battles over property fed into questions of national identity and political purpose, and it will also focus on the the physical space of the garden, its location in the city, and how knowledge was shaped through material and spatial means.

Gunny HarboeFounder and President, Harboe Architects; Adjunct Professor of Architecture, IIT School of Architecture

Modern Heritage: Is It Worth Saving?


Lunch Presentation

Frank VagnonePrincipal, Twisted Preservation

Decay, Demolition & Death: Changes in Preservation — Franklin Vagnone's address will highlight the current social and political situations that are affecting the future of the Preservation field. From guerrilla tagging to ISIS destruction, the very fundamentals of preservation are shifting.




Panel Two: Defining Communities and Interpreting the Past

Richard HandlerProfessor of Anthropology; Director of the Global Development Studies Program, University of Virginia

Did the past have a future?: Quebec 40 years later. — Returning for a two-week visit to Quebec 40 years after my initial fieldwork, I wondered how to evaluate the success of the nationalist movement that reached its height in 1976 with the election of the "indépendentiste" Parti Québécois. What were the results of the nationalists' cultural policies, intended to protect Quebec's language and culture and allow them to flourish? My 20th-century conclusion had been that there was nothing more modern, nothing more cosmopolitan, than the politics of heritage preservation. Does my 21st-century visit require me to critique that conclusion?

Morag KerselAssistant Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology, DePaul University

Collecting Communities and the Demand for Antiquities from the Holy Land — Communities are constructed, reinforced, and strengthened as a result of the desire for archaeological objects from the Holy Land (modern Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Territories). Social ties are created as tourists, pilgrims, educational institutions, and individuals; both local and foreign acquire objects. Critical to understanding the mechanics of the trade and the motivations of the associated actors is the recognition of the commonality of demand - each community shares a collective interest in these particular objects. Why is there demand for material from the Holy Land? What motivates collectors, broadly conceived of as individuals and institutions? This interdisciplinary investigation examines the relationship between the demand for Holy Land artifacts and the various communities that consider these "objects of desire."

Jennifer AndersonAssociate Professor of History, Stony Brook University

Slavery, History, and Memory: Interpreting Challenging Subjects at Historic Sites and Museums — In the Northeast, many historic sites and house museums have ties to slavery that have long been shrouded in denial, obscured due to a lack of research, romanticized through comforting myths, or simply unacknowledged. In recent years, however, some of them have begun to grapple-or have been forced to grapple-with sharing this often painful past, and its legacies of racial prejudice and inequality, with increasingly diverse audiences. Drawing on twenty years of work as a museum curator, consultant, and historian, Jennifer will discuss some of the issues that arise when discussing such potentially controversial subjects with the general public, strategies for training staff, volunteers, and board members to handle them, and the importance of integrating African Americans' life stories into sites where their presence typically has been marginalized.

3:00 - 3:15



Panel Three: The Future of the Past

Marla MillerProfessor of History; Director of the Public History Program, UMass Amherst

Bending the Future: Charting the Next Half-Century of Historic Preservation in the U.S. — As we mark the 50th anniversary of the NHPA, practitioners and thought leaders across the nation are looking both back and forward to chart the course of preservation's next half-century. In a volume to be published by UMass Press in summer 2016, Max Page and Marla Miller have gathered 50 "provocations" from an array of practitioners and thought leaders, each stating one priority for the field's next half-century. Miller will offer a preview of the collection, and share some of the key themes crossing these essays, offering some thoughts about what the volume suggests about the current state of preservation practice.

Lawrence RothfieldAssociate Professor of Comparative Literature; Research Affiliate and Former Faculty Director of the Cultural Policy Center, University of Chicago

Paying for Archaeological Preservation: A Pigovian Approach — Almost every nation has laws against looting, smuggling, and trafficking in antiquities, supplemented by international bans and bilateral interdictions. Yet the playing field remains badly tilted against the site guards, customs officials, antiquities police, and prosecutors charged with enforcing these laws, in large part because enforcers lack the financial resources needed to do their job.

To supplement and give teeth to the strict but ineffectual legal regime now in place, economic thinking and basic public policy research suggests it would be helpful to institute a "pollution tax" on antiquities purchased by residents of "market" countries. Such taxes—imposed on such transactions in goods as tobacco, gas, coal, etc.—are designed to internalize the social costs of economic activities so that the polluting industry either takes measures to clean itself up or pays the government to prevent or mitigate the harm the industry causes. An antiquities tax, tailored to fall more heavily on antiquities with weaker provenance or extremely high prices, and channeled into an antiquities-protection Superfund (as was done to clean up toxic chemical sites), could provide a sustainable funding stream to pay for more robust enforcement efforts against the illicit market and for better site security. Such a tax is likely to face substantial resistance from both dealers and archaeologists, but it is suggested that the concerns of both sides could be dealt with through sustained discussion and negotiation.

Sonia KatyalChancellor's Professor of Law, UC Berkeley Law School



Closing Remarks


Reception – Student Lounge, Fifth Floor