July 25, 2013

Report from Amelia: Erik Nemeth lectures on Cultural Security at ARCA's Postgraduate Certificate Program


by Yasmin Hamed, ARCA Intern

Week Seven of ARCA's Postgraduate Certificate Program got off to an unusual start with most of this year’s students off-site. Monday and Tuesday saw the remnants of the long weekend break where many of the students travelled both within and beyond Italy. Students enjoyed the sights around Italy such as Bari, Matera, Venice, Milan and Florence in addition to other locations beyond the borders such as Switzerland, Serbia, Marrakech and Malta.

Our slower than usual return to classes on Wednesday afternoon began our first day of a new module on Cultural Security led by Dr. Erik Nemeth. With a brief segue from art crime, our first encounter focused on the interdisciplinary nature of Cultural Security and the interactions of each discipline very thoroughly represented in our class from the three areas of physical, political and economic spheres.

With our first full day of classes we further examined the dimensions of cultural security during three main temporal spheres: the Second World War, the Cold War, and the Post-Cold War periods. The dynamics between cultural security and cultural intelligence opened up a discussion on the problems and solutions currently at play on the international field. Again, each student offered insights from their own fields. Dr. Nemeth’s presentations offered a view of cultural security through a series of well-known case studies such as the infamous destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhasin Afghanistan in 2001 and of the Samarra Mosque in Iraq in 2006.

A discussion of the great losses to cultural property could only be followed with the counter-active measures: cultural intelligence services. Dr. Nemeth’s scientific approach to this subject brought about a new way of attacking our studies through the use of statistical analysis. This data may be used to predict threatened cultural heritage sites worldwide by organizations who are tasked with the protection of cultural property in areas of conflict.

As we are getting further and further into the course, an interesting dynamic begins to arise. Having covered such significant areas such as bi-lateral agreements previously in our class on Art Crime in War with Judge Arthur Tompkins, in addition to during our class on Art and Heritage Law, we are now garnering a view of intricate subject areas such as this from a number of viewpoints. This multi-disciplinary approach to major issues within the area of art crime research is creating a solid foundation in our knowledge of this area with every new module. 

Coming off the hectic travel during the long weekend, and with no formally arranged class trips, most students took advantage of last weekend to relax. A fantastic birthday party for one of the students at the top of Amelia beside the duomo offered astounding panoramic views of Amelia. As Week Seven came to a close, some of our students even benefited from a poolside reading of Dorit Straus’ article on “Insurance Claims and the Art Market” in preparation for Week Eight in ARCA’s 2013 Postgraduate Program.

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