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Under the Shadow of ISIS: Digging Archaeology and Documenting Cultural Property Crimes in Northern Iraq
Monday, March 6, 2017
401 Alfred Lerner Hall
Archaeological sites, museums, libraries, and places of worship in Syria and Iraq are being attacked and damaged at an unprecedented rate unseen since the Second World War. The systematic and overt campaign of genocide and cultural cleansing wrought by the so-called Islamic State on the peoples and cultures of these countries has brutally underscored the linkages between cultural heritage, cultural diversity, and human rights. In response, the ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives (ASOR CHI), a Department of State sponsored program, documents damage to heritage as a result of the wars in Syria and northern Iraq and implements mitigation programs to support local projects that protect historic sites and cultural repositories. My talk will discuss the work being done by ASOR CHI and its recent findings, as well as a personal account of what it is like to work in Iraq.
Allison Cuneo is the Project Manager for ASOR CHI and an archaeologist focused on protection of cultural heritage in the Middle East. Working with her Syrian and Iraqi contacts on the ground, social media, and news reports, she gathers and verifies evidence of cultural property crimes committed by ISIS. Despite the nearby war, she and the Rowanduz Archaeological Project continue to excavate in Iraq, working with local researchers to discover, investigate, and preserve archaeological sites while developing educational programs to introduce a new generation to ancient and modern cultures. Previously, she was the Program Manager for the Mosul University Archaeological Program (MAP), a collaborative project between Mosul University and Boston University, aimed at fostering professional networks between Iraqi and American archaeological scholars and designing an expanded course offering for the College of Archaeology at Mosul University. She has degrees from Dickinson College and Boston University, where she developed an interest in the politics of heritage policy and a passion for community outreach. In addition to Iraq, has archaeological field experience in Greece, England, Spain, and Israel.