KHI 2021+ Lecture Series

Lynn Meskell: Engineering Internationalism: Colonialism, the Cold War and UNESCO’s Victory in Nubia

Otto Daettwyler, Abu Simbel, Egypt, 1964. © UNESCO

In 1955 Egypt and Sudan appealed for international support to save the sites and monuments of ancient Nubia, an area to be flooded by construction of the Aswan Dam. Inspired by idealism and set amidst the Cold War, the Nubian Monuments Campaign represents UNESCO’s utopian desires for world citizenship and global heritage. UNESCO embraced large-scale and transnational archaeology, bringing together archaeological research and a technocratic conservation agenda. While only fleeting, and not entirely successful, this foray into field archaeology would mark both archaeology’s apogee and demise at UNESCO.

Lynn Meskell is Richard D. Green Professor of Anthropology and Professor in the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as curator in the Middle East and Asia sections at the Penn Museum. She is currently A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University (2019–2025). She holds Honorary Professorships at Oxford University and Liverpool University in the UK, Shiv Nadar University, India and the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. Previously, Meskell was the Shirley and Leonard Ely Professor of Humanities and Sciences in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University. She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. She has been awarded grants and fellowships including those from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Australian Research Council, the American Academy in Rome, the School of American Research, Oxford University and Cambridge University. Meskell has conducted an institutional ethnography of UNESCO World Heritage, and is author of the award-winning book A Future in Ruins: UNESCO, World Heritage, and the Dream of Peace (2018).

This talk is part of the KHI 2021+ Lecture Series, organized by the doctoral and postdoctoral fellows, in collaboration with scientific staff and senior scholars of the Institute. It is envisioned as a forum to reflect on the futures of Art History through conversations with innovative voices in the discipline, working in different areas but sharing methodological concerns.

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12 May 2021, 3:00pm

KHI 2021+ Lecture Series
The event takes place online.

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