This lecture is a part of a workshop, The Future of the Past: Addressing the Cultural Heritage Crisis in Iraq and Syria, presented by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Columbia University and the Koç University Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations.
This lecture discusses the current destruction of heritage in Iraq and Syria. It argues that these are not iconoclastic acts based in religious conviction. The destruction is motivated by materialist geopolitical goals. It seeks to erase the historical landscape, and to destroy the physical evidence of any connection of people to their land. By creating a wasteland, these acts radically re-write and falsify the history of the Middle East and its peoples.
Zainab Bahrani is the Edith Porada Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, New York. She studied the History of Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University where she earned her MA and PhD degrees in a joint program of Ancient Near Eastern and Greek art and archaeology. Professor Bahrani has published extensively in the area of art history and theory, aesthetics and politics. Her most recent book, The Infinite Image: Art, Time and the Aesthetic Dimension in Antiquity Reaktion (University of Chicago Press, 2014) is based on her 2010-2011 Slade Lectures in the Fine Arts at Oxford and won the Trilling Book prize for 2015. She is also the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards including honors from the Getty Foundation, the Mellon Foundation and the Guggenheim Foundation