Department of Art and Art History Conference or Seminar

UT Antiquities Action Symposium: Landscapes of Identity: Global and Local Models for Heritage Preservation program

Sun. March 19, 2017

artifact starkly lit with dramatic shadow, text in pinkish red
Image credit: D C Trein

Landscapes of Identity: Global and Local Models for Heritage Preservation

Program Presentation Abstracts

9:00 a.m.
Coffee and opening remarks

9:30 a.m.
Dr. Alex Walthall (University of Texas at Austin) and Dr. Jared Benton (Old Dominion University)

Looting, Looters, and Stakeholders in Aidone, Sicily: the Economic and Cultural Valuation of Repatriated Art in Rural Communities
During the 1990s and early 2000s a belief pervaded among archaeologists that, if cultural property remained in—or was returned to—its location of origin, it would stimulate the local economy, increase local stakeholding in cultural heritage, and curb looting. The central Sicilian town of Aidone, as a site of both repatriated works of ancient art and ongoing looting, offers an unique opportunity to study the intersections of repatriation, symbolic capital, stakeholding, and economic benefit in a community outside of the major tourist networks. From 2007 to 2011, several high-profile artifacts were returned to the city of Aidone from the United States. As it became clear the works of art would return, the residents of Aidone enthusiastically embraced both the restitution of their own cultural property and the possibility of a reinvigorated local economy. Now, a decade after the first repatriation, it is time to reflect on the initial promises of restitution.

10:00 a.m.
Dr. May al-Ibrashy (American University in Cairo, founder of Megawra)

Heritage Conservation as a driver for development: Athar Lina Initiative in Historic Cairo
Athar Lina is a participatory conservation initiative to establish modalities of citizen participation in heritage conservation based on a vision of the monument as a resource not a burden. It is based in al-Khalifa in Historic Cairo and run by the Built Environment Collective|Megawra. Athar Lina believes that conservation can be a vehicle for development if practiced in a participatory inclusive manner. Athar Lina’s activities in Khalifa are based on the five lines of action proposed in the first participatory workshop; 1) Conservation and rehabilitation of heritage sites as nodes of cultural and socio-economic development; 2) Heritage Education; 3) Development of craft and design through knowledge exchange and capacity building; 4) Tourist promotion; 5) Improvement of quality of public space through projects to improve infrastructure, upgrade public space and provide spaces for sports and recreation.

10:30 a.m.

11:00 a.m.
Dr. Astrid Runggaldier (University of Texas at Austin)

Where do ‘Orphans’ Belong? Local Engagement with Global Concerns Through the Art and Art History Collection at the University of Texas at Austin
In the context of museum collections, “orphaned antiquities” are objects with unclear or undocumented provenance, or collecting history. For archaeologists, the term “orphan” additionally refers to objects that lack information about their original context of recovery. Orphan collections tend to form when objects are donated by private collectors, as in the case of the Art and Art History Collection (AAHC) at UT Austin, which includes a number of indigenous American artworks that present complex ethical concerns for art historians, archaeologists, and museum specialists. However, as this presentation discusses, these concerns also present excellent opportunities to teach locally about global issues of cultural heritage protection.

11:30 a.m.
Dr. Robert B. Pickering (University of Tulsa)

Antiquities, Museums & Research: A West Mexico Example
Museum-based research of archaeological collections has an important role to play in preserving the past. The benefits and liabilities of using museum collections will be presented using examples from West Mexico.

12:00 p.m.

1:00 p.m.
Dr. Eric Tang (University of Texas at Austin)

Those Who Stayed: The Impact of Gentrification on Longstanding Residents of Austin's Eastside
A handful of longtime African American residents of East Austin remain in what is arguably the most heavily gentrified neighborhood in the city. They steadfastly refuse to relinquish their property, presence and place in the community. How do these remaining residents understand the profound changes brought on by gentrification and the displacement of their neighbors? Have they reaped any of the benefits of new housing development and the influx of new businesses and resources as some defenders of gentrification claim? Or are they only embattled, forced to defend what remains of their historic and beloved community?

1:30 p.m.
Dr. Stephennie Mulder (University of Texas at Austin)

Local or Universal: Imagining Antiquity and its Localities in Islamic Societies
Long before the emergence of ISIS and other so-called Islamist iconoclasts, and perhaps as early as the rise of Islam itself, Muslims imagined Islamic and pre-Islamic antiquity and its localities in myriad ways: as sites of memory, spaces of healing, or places imbued with didactic, historical, and moral power. Ancient statuary were deployed as talismans, paintings were interpreted to foretell and reify the coming of Islam, and temples of ancient gods and churches devoted to holy saints were converted into mosques in ways that preserved their original meaning and, sometimes, even their architectural ornament and fabric. Often, such localities were valued simply as places that elicited a sense of awe and wonder, or of reflection on the present relevance of history and the greatness of past empires, a theme so prevalent it created distinct genres of Arabic and Persian literature (aja’ib, fada’il). Sites like Ctesiphon, the ancient capital of the Zoroastrian Sasanians, or the Temple Mount, where the Jewish temple had stood, were embraced by early companions of the Prophet Muhammad and incorporated into Islamic notions of the self. Furthermore, various Islamic interpretive communities as well as Jews and Christians often shared holy places and had similar haptic, sensorial, and ritual connections that enabled them to imagine place in similar ways. However, although traditional locally-grounded relationships to sites of heritage were precisely the means of their preservation into modern times, the interjection of colonial rule imposed a new paradigm of “universal” heritage that denied and erased established local practices of heritage preservation. This paper will challenge current “universal” archaeological and heritage models now prevalent by exploring several examples of local preservation of heritage sites, and in doing so, will reveal the numerous ways Muslims, Christians, and Jews preserved and revered the past throughout Islamic history.

2:00 p.m.
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Erin Thompson (John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY)

Using (and Losing) Our Heads: Case Studies of Conflicts between Global and Local Heritage
What should happen when local and global audiences want to use cultural heritage in conflicting ways? Whose use should get priority? Who should be able to block another group's use? Thompson will examine these questions by presenting three case studies of artworks based on heads: the mummified head of a Maori warrior; Athena emerging from the head of Zeus on the east pediment of the Parthenon; and the head of Sarawati, Hindu goddess of wisdom, stolen from a shrine in rural Nepal.

Bio: As America’s only full-time professor of art crime, Erin studies the damage done to humanity’s shared heritage through looting, theft, and the deliberate destruction of art. She has discussed art crime topics in, e.g., The New York Times, CNN, NPR, and the Freakonomics podcast, and has been invited to lecture at MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and Columbia. Her book, Possession: The Curious History of Private Collectors, is now out from Yale University Press. Currently, Erin is researching the ways in which terrorist groups both sell and destroy art to support their genocidal campaigns, as well as the legalities and ethics of digital reproductions of cultural heritage.

This conference is sponsored by Antiquities Action, Department of Classics, Department of Art and Art History and Middle Eastern Studies.

Professor Joan Holladay Invited to Lecture at Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures in Hamburg

Mon. March 20, 2017

woman in black blazer standing to the right of her power point presentation
Dr. Joan Holladay

The Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures engages in fundamental research on the diversity of manuscript cultures. In early March, the center invited Art History Professor Joan Holladay along with scholars of manuscripts from across the globe to share their research in Hamburg, Germany during a workshop titled, “The Illustration of History in Medieval Manuscripts.”

Meant to address the question of the illustration of historical texts in both Western European and Persian traditions, the colloquia in March brought together specialists from Europe, the United States and Turkey, to provide a comparative approach to many common questions in the field. Holladay’s presentation focused on her research in western medieval art, specifically focusing on cases where manuscript illustrations depart from patterning manusc imagery after its accompanying text and choose to depict family trees.

“My paper examined three different kinds of chronicles whose illustrations depart from this expected pattern in which the images illustrate events narrated in the text,” writes Holladay. “All three replace such narrative imagery with family trees, diagrams that are not generated by the text. If the choice of narrative episodes to illustrate the events in more typically illuminated chronicles reveal an understanding of the text, I ask: ‘How do such family trees elaborate, supplement, or gloss the text?’”

MFA candidate Kat Kohl contributes to panel on art and science of spatial perception at SXSW

Thu. March 2, 2017

four persons doused in a reddish light, speaking on a panel together
Kat Kohl speaking at KUTX's Views & Brews programming at Cactus Cafe
Photo credit: Stephanie Ramirez 

M.F.A. candidate in Studio Art Kat Kohl presented together with Associate Professor of Architecture Matt Fajkus and Assistant Professor of Neuroscience Dr. Laura Colgin on a South by Southwest Education (SXSWedu) panel moderated by Rebecca McInroy, Senior Producer and Host of The panel session, "The Art & Science of Spatial Perception," discussed how memory, form and light influence internal and external representations of our experiences.

We sat down with Kohl to get a glimpse into the discussion that would transpire during SXSWedu and learn more about Kohl's work. 

To learn more about the session, visit here.  

Kohl, Fajkus and Colgin also joined KUT's Views and Brews at the Cactus Cafe on February 28 to share there efforts and collaborative discussion with the University of Texas and greater Austin community. 

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