Cummings Foundation Grant Recipient

Heritage Forensics: Satellites and Specters in the Contested Caucasus ~ Thursday, October 5, 2023 ~ In Person

Adam T. Smith Armenia Artsakh Azerbaijan Caucasus Harvard University Department of Anthropology Harvard University Department of History of Art and Architecture Harvard University Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Harvard University Program on Georgian Studies Heritage Forensics Husik Ghulyan Ian Lindsay Lori Khatchadourian Mashtots Chair in Armenian Studies at Harvard Mural Painting NAASR Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Lecture Series on Contemporary Armenian Issues Nagorno Karabakh

Thursday, October 5, 2023, at 4:30pm Eastern

In Person at Harvard University William James Hall 105, 33 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, MA

ADAM T. SMITH, Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences in Anthropology at Cornell University and Director of the Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies (CIAMS). Caucasus Heritage Watch (CHW) co-director.

IAN LINDSAY, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Purdue University, CHW co-founder and director.

LORI KHATCHADOURIAN, Associate Professor of Near Eastern Studies and Anthropology at Cornell University. CHW co-founder and director.

HUSIK GHULYAN, visiting scholar at the Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies, and Lead Researcher at CHW.

As cultural heritage has moved to the center of 21st century conflicts, it has become a spectral presence, leaving traces of trauma, erasure, and loss. Nowhere has the spectrality of heritage been more acute than in the South Caucasus, a region wracked by decades of violence, ethnic cleansing, animosity, and nationalism.

This presentation will introduce the practice of heritage forensics in relation to the ongoing research program of Caucasus Heritage Watch (CHW). Founded in 2020 in the wake of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, CHW uses the techniques of cultural aerospace to document, detect, and deter attacks on the fragile remains of the human past. This talk is organized around three forensic dossiers on medieval and early modern heritage caught in the crosshairs of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Heritage forensics is an approach to cultural remains that operates at the intersection of archaeology, law, and politics. Where heritage is constituted by the corpus of curated materials and intangible practices passed down to the present from the past, forensics refers to investigations that document disruptions of that legacy by state and non-state actors. Heritage forensics is thus an inherently public and post-disciplinary form of scholarship. Our primary tool is the satellite image. We use this tool to help expose and combat the violence that drives attacks on tangible heritage as well as the post-truths that work to conceal them.

Department of Anthropology, Harvard
Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard
Mashtots Chair in Armenian Studies, Harvard
Program on Georgian Studies, Harvard
National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) / Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Lecture Series on Contemporary Armenian Issues

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