Monuments and Memory

In the aftermath of mass violence, how are buildings and material culture belonging to victimized cultures abandoned, destroyed, disregarded, and repurposed by both perpetrator state and non-state actors? Can current academic discourse on the ethical issues concerning destroyed or appropriated material culture have an impact on public and international policy concerning restoration, restitution, and social justice? This conference will explore these general themes and include an in-depth and multi-layered consideration of the ruins of the medieval city of Ani in eastern Turkey. Each session of the conference will be chaired by a member of the Columbia community and followed by comments made by the chair and a Q-and-A session.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

The event is free and open to the public.

Session One: 10 to 11:15 a.m.

Monuments and Memory: The Significance of Material Culture in the Aftermath of Genocide

This panel will deal with the historical contexts for the destroyed or appropriated material cultures of minority peoples in the aftermath of histories of mass violence. We will analyze their current conditions and their roles in collective memory—for both occupying and exiled cultures.

Moderator: Christine Philliou, Associate Professor of History, Columbia University
Peter Balakian, Donald M. Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities, Colgate University
Andrew Herscher, Associate Professor of Architecture, University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Marianna Hirsch, William Peterfield Trent Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

Session Two: 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

The Medieval Armenian City of Ani: A Case Study in the Politicization of Art History, History, Historical Monuments and Preservation in a Post-Genocidal Context

This session will include papers on subjects related to the following topics: Ani’s multicultural (but not necessarily “Turkish”) past; the “re-discoveries” of Ani; cultural destruction and the “new preservation” in Turkey; Ani-based Restoration Projects in the past 10 years; Ani and its depiction in modern Turkey; Ani and its place in the construction of Armenian identity; Minority Cultural Heritage in the Republic of Turkey.

Moderator: Nanor Kebranian, Assistant Professor, MESAAS, Columbia University
CHristina Maranci, Arthur H. Dadian and Ara Oztemel Associate Professor of Armenian Art and Architecture, Tufts University
Rachel Goshgarian, Assistant Professor of History, Lafayette College
Heghnar Watenpaugh, Associate Professor of Art History, University of California at San Diego
Yavuz Ozkaya, Restoration Architect, PROMET Architecture and Restoration Co.

Session Three:: 2:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Monuments, Memory, Restitution, and Social Justice

This session will consider the following questions:

  • What issues do monuments raise in these historical contexts?
  • How can social justice and restitution be achieved decades after the event of genocide or mass-killing?

Moderator: Hamid Dabashi, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, Columbia University
Osman Kavala, Founder of Anadolu Kultur
Leo Spitzer, Kathe Tappe Vernon Professor of History, Dartmouth University
Elazar Barkan, Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

Round Table Discussion 4:45 to 5:45 p.m.