AIA-6H: Ecologies of Cultural Heritage in Turkey: Practice, Preservation, and the Future (Colloquium)

  Hybrid   AIA Session   Colloquium

Sponsored by:

AIA Cultural Heritage Committee and Anatolian Archaeology Interest Group


Ömür Harman?ah, University of Illinois; Alexander Bauer, City University of New York, Department of Anthropology


Zeynep Boz Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Republic of Turkey

Overview Statement

Turkey houses distinctive archaeological and historical landscapes that have been the focus of archaeological research into the deep history of our planet. A meaningful engagement with this ecology of heritage is shared by local communities who are both the inheritors and stewards of this cultural heritage and act as stakeholders in its preservation, politics, and planning. It is often assumed that pre-Islamic past is irrelevant to contemporary communities of Anatolia, yet landscapes of heritage are continuously reimagined in creative ways, while the ruins and monuments of the ancient past are sites of new storytelling and collective engagement with the material past. Similar to the other regions in western Asia, ecologies of cultural heritage in Turkey have been deeply impacted by industrialization, infrastructure development, natural disasters, climate change, and looting. For example, the recent and devastating earthquakes and their aftershocks in southeastern Turkey on February 6th, 2023, which took lives of more than 56,000 people, caused large-scale destruction of architectural monuments in the provinces of Kahramanmaraş, Gaziantep, Diyarbakır, Antakya, Malatya, and Adıyaman. Such heritage destruction and ongoing threat to sites of heritage have prompted strong responses by governmental and nongovernmental organizations, academics, heritage professionals, civil society organizations, and local communities toward the preservation and safeguarding of monuments, museums, archaeological sites, and landscapes. The rapidly changing state of the rural countryside, its agricultural management, and the increasingly large-scale looting operations under the impact of climate change and late capitalist economies are also transforming heritage landscapes at a fast pace. In response, many international and local archaeological projects in recent years have developed public archaeology initiatives in the framework of their ongoing fieldwork to collaborate with and engage heritage communities. We invite contributors to this colloquium on the state of cultural heritage in Turkey to reflect on the current practices of heritage preservation, heritage management, and public archaeology, and also to think innovatively about the future of cultural heritage in the region. While focused on Turkey in particular, these cases speak to issues of heritage practice across the planet and offer important lessons for the future. Papers will include presentations on innovative work of public archaeology in collaboration with heritage communities to advance preservation goals, recent successes in fighting looting and antiquities trafficking, success stories in repatriation and reparations, the challenges of preserving urban heritage in the context of gentrification and development, and strategies to negotiate contested heritage.