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Culture and Identity: Heritage in Post-Conflict Asian Communities

Culture and Identity: Heritage in Post-Conflict Asian Communities

A panel discussion with Jonathan Rider, Daniel Skillings and Flore de Taisne.  Click here to register

Culture has the singular capacity to unite and divide communities.  Across the Middle East and South-Central Asia protracted conflicts have resulted in the loss of human life, population displacement, economic turmoil and political and social unrest and acts of ‘cultural terrorism’ have become familiar over the last two decades.  The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan, of the Temple of Bel in Syria and of 40,000 ancient islamic manuscripts in Timbuktu are only the most notorious.

Behind these sensational acts, lies a steady and largely un-noticed erosion of intangible cultural heritage – traditional crafts, artisanal industries, folk stories and local traditions. Efforts to stabilise conflict and post-conflict countries rightly focus first on humanitarian assistance, followed by infrastructure, education, healthcare and economic recovery needs.  Culture is often overlooked and poorly funded, but it can play a key role in reconciliation and economic recovery.

The panel will explore the important role in that heritage can play in strengthening societies and rebuilding economies after conflicts,  drawing on their experiences in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Syria and Jordan.

Our panellists are:

Jonathan Rider – an archaeologist, he was Director of Policy, Partnerships and Communications at the Aga Khan Foundation before managing UNESCO conservation projects at Bamiyan (on which see his talk to the RSAA in February 2018).  More recently he co-founded Aleph Strategies, a research consultancy specialising in conflict and post-conflict countries.

Daniel Skillings – co-founder and Director of Aleph Strategies, was previously a Director for Altai Consulting and before that was the Program Coordinator for the Preventive Diplomacy Initiative at the East-West Institute in Brussels.  An expert on evaluation, he has twelve years’ experience in education, agriculture, private sector development, media, governance and culture.

Flore de Taisne – starting out as an evaluation consultant for organisations such as the World Bank and United Nations, she went on to work for Turquoise Mountain in Afghanistan, before becoming the Deputy Country Director in Jordan. In 2016 she co-founded ISHKAR, a social enterprise, that helps parts of the world that have been cut off by global events, creating opportunities for artists, artisans and local guides. Flore is one of Forbes 30 under 30 for her work in social enterprise.

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