War on Culture/War on Memory: Ukraine, Bosnia and the Global Defense of Heritage

War on Culture/War on Memory: Ukraine, Bosnia and the Global Defense of Heritage

Photograph: Museum of Ukrainian Antiquities named after Vasyl Tarnovsky (currently the Library for Youth) in Chernihiv (Northern Ukraine). This historical building from the National Heritage list was built in 1896, survived two World Wars and was destroyed by Russian air bombing in March 2022. Image taken during the HERI field expedition on damage and risk assessment, laser scanning in May 2022. Image by Bohdan Poshyvailo, Maidan Museum archive.

Symposium and film screening devoted to the urgent question of the destruction and preservation of cultural heritage in time of war

Friday, December 2, 2022
10:30 AM - 5:30 PM (Pacific Time)

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This symposium and film viewing is devoted to the urgent question of the destruction and preservation of cultural heritage in time of war.

Watch the recording of this event on CERS YouTube channel.

The UCLA Center for European and Russian Studies (CERS) is holding a Fall symposium and film viewing devoted to the urgent question of the destruction and preservation of cultural heritage in time of war. Co-sponsored by President’s International Council, J. Paul Getty Trust, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Creative Activities, the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies (CNES), the UCLA Department of Slavic, East European & Eurasian Languages & Cultures, and the South East European Film Festival, the event will take place on Friday, December 2, 2022 from 10:30am to 5:30pm (PT) at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.


Despite international legal sanctions, we are currently witnessing widespread systematic attacks on cultural heritage in armed conflict, including the brute destruction of buildings and cultural sites (from graves to libraries to museums, to archaeological sites, public monuments, artworks and books); the theft of material heritage or its distortion and abuse in propaganda; the use of media/TV campaigns to rewrite history; and the detention or killing of cultural actors/activists.

Our symposium has two linked aims:

  • To present a clear account of the toll of cultural destruction in the current war in Ukraine, and multilateral efforts at documentation and preservation
  • To broaden our understanding of destruction and preservation by reflecting on the catastrophic experience of Bosnia during the war of 1992-1995, and its long term impact

The film viewing and concluding roundtable will situate the issue of contemporary war and cultural destruction in the broader global comparative context, including the wars in Syria and Iraq.


10:00am - 10:30am | Registration


10:30am - 12:00pm | Panel Discussion A: Cultural Destruction in Ukraine Now

  • War in Ukraine: Battle for Freedom, Identity, Future
    • Ihor Poshyvailo, Director, National Museum of Revolution of Dignity in Kyiv

  • Cultural Heritage and Modern Conflict: Ukraine 2014-Present
    • Damian Koropeckyj, Senior Analyst, Cultural Heritage Monitoring Lab, Virginia

  • Q&A with audience
  • Moderator: Vadim Schneyder, Associate Professor, UCLA Department of Slavic, East European & Eurasian Languages & Cultures

12:00pm - 12:20pm | Coffee Break

12:20pm - 12:50pm | The Arches Heritage Data Management Platform

  • The Arches Heritage Data Management Platform: A Tool for Informed Heritage Management
    • David Myers, Senior Project Specialist, Getty Conservation Institute
  • Moderator: Anne Gilliland, Professor, UCLA School of Education & Information Studies

12:50pm - 1:00pm | Break

1:00pm - 2:30pm Panel | Discussion B: Cultural Destruction in Bosnia—Then and Now

  • When War is Only the Beginning: Cultural Destruction in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Act One & Two
    • Amila Buturović, Professor, Department of Humanities, York University
  • Genocide as Destruction of Memory
    • Aleksandar Hemon, Author and Professor, Princeton University

  • Roundtable discussion, Q&A with audience
  • Moderator: Adam Moore, Associate Professor at UCLA Geography

2:30pm - 3:30pm | Reception

3:30pm - 5:30pm | Film Screening and Q&A with Panelists and Director

  • The Destruction of Memory (film screening, 81 mins)
  • Discussion and Q&A with Tim Slade, Director and Producer; and Panelists
  • Moderators: Laurie Kain Hart, Director, UCLA Center for European and Russian Studies; Professor,  UCLA Anthropology; Roman Koropeckyj, Professor, UCLA Department of Slavic, East European & Eurasian Languages & Cultures


Ihor Poshyvailo (Kyiv, Ukraine) is a Director General of the National Memorial to the Heavenly Hundred Heroes and Revolution of Dignity Museum (Maidan Museum). He is cultural activist, ethnologist, museologist, cultural manager and art curator. Ihor is ex-chairman of the Museum Council at the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture and the ICOM International Committee on Disaster Resilient Museums. He holds PhD in History, was a Fulbright Scholar at the Smithsonian Institution; an international fellow at the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center; a participant, lecturer and mentor of the First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis training courses of ICCROM in the Netherlands, US and Italy. When the full-scale Russian invasion started in February 2022 Ihor became initiator, co-founder and coordinator of the Heritage Emergency Response Initiative (HERI) and a member of the National Council for the Recovery of Ukraine from the War. [Photo of Ihor Poshyvailo by Maidan Museum]

Damian Koropeckyj holds an MA in Greek and Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology from the University of Athens and experience as a field archaeologist. He is a Visiting Scholar at the Smithsonian Institution and a Senior Analyst at the Cultural Heritage Monitoring Lab, which monitors the destruction of cultural heritage in natural disaster and conflict. Damian’s research on the exploitation of cultural heritage in conflict has been presented to the US Committee of the Blue Shield and members of the UK Parliament. His prior experience includes working for the Department of State at the US Embassy in Moscow, Russia. [Photo of Damian Koropeckyj by Alden Grosh/Historic St. Mary's City.]

David Myers is a senior project specialist at the Getty Conservation Institute. He is a member of the GCI’s project team for the open-source Arches Heritage Data Management Platform, and has focused on building its international open-source community. He is also preparing the forthcoming Getty publication, Inventories and Surveys for Heritage Management: Lessons from Los Angeles and Beyond. He worked in the past on the GCI’s research on heritage values and consensus building, as well as on the Los Angeles Historic Resource Survey project, a project to develop and implement the Middle Eastern Geodatabase for Antiquities (MEGA) - Jordan, and GCI projects in Egypt, Southern Africa, Myanmar, and for Iraq. He holds an M.S. in historic preservation and an advanced certificate in architectural conservation and site management from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an M.A in geography from the University of Kansas.

Amila Buturović's research spans the intersections of religion and culture in the context of Islamic societies, specifically the Balkans, based on material and written sources. In addition to numerous articles and essays, she has authored Stone Speaker: Medieval Tombstones, Landscape, and Bosnian Identity in the Poetry of Mak Dizdar (2002); co-edited, with Irvin C Schick, Women in the Ottoman Balkans: Gender, Culture and History (2007), which was translated into Turkish as Osmanlı Döneminde Balkan Kadınlar (2009), and edited a special issue of Canadian Literary Journal Descant under the title Bosnia and Herzegovina: Loss and Recovery (2012). Her latest book, Carved in Stone, Etched in Memory: Death, Tombstones and Commemoration in Bosnian Islam (2016) concerns the spaces and culture of death in Bosnia and the questions of continuity and discontinuity in eschatological sensibilities, epigraphic texts, and commemorative practices. Her current research examines interconfessional health culture in Ottoman Bosnia, with a special focus on material and written evidence of occult knowledge and practices.

Aleksandar Hemon is the author of The Lazarus Project, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award, as well as The Question of Bruno; Nowhere Man, Love and Obstacles, The Book of My Lives, The Making of Zombie Wars, as well as a couple of non-fiction books. His novel The World and All That It Holds is forthcoming in January ‘23. Aleksandar Hemon has worked as a writer for Radio Sarajevo Youth Program, and then a waiter, canvasser, bookseller, bike messenger, as well as a supervisor at a literacy center, and a teacher of English as a second language (all in Chicago). His work has been featured in The New Yorker, Esquire, Granta, The New York Times, Playboy, McSweeney’s, TriQuarterly, The Baffler, The Wall Street Journal, Tin House, Ploughshares and The Paris Review, among others. He’s written for film and television, most recently The Matrix Resurrections. He produces and releases music as Cielo Hemon. He has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation, the Jan Michalski Prize for Literature, the PEN/ W.G. Sebald Award, a USA Fellowship, PEN/Jean Stein Oral History Grant etc. He has taught at Northwestern University, University of Illinois at Urbana/Champagne, Columbia College Chicago, University of Chicago, New York University. He finally settled at Princeton University, where he teaches now. [Photo of Aleksandar Hemon by Velibor Božović]

Tim Slade is a writer, director and producer whose films have screened across six continents. Originally from Sydney, Australia, now based in New York City, Tim’s films have screened at over 80 international film festivals and have been broadcast in 50 countries. He has won best film and audience awards at film festivals for his documentary and narrative films. His feature documentary 4 was released theatrically, and won a Gold Plaque at the Chicago HUGO Television Awards, as well as nominations at the Banff World Television Festival, the International Documentary Association Awards, as well as nominations for two Australian Film Institute awards, including Best Documentary Feature. The Destruction of Memory has been broadcast globally, and has screened for the United Nations and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. He has also directed narrative films, and is currently working on both narrative and documentary projects.

The Arches Heritage Data Management Platform

Arches is an open-source data-management platform developed to create, manage, and if desired, publish online information concerning all types of cultural heritage. Arches was developed by the Getty Conservation Institute, with initial support from World Monuments Fund, to address the needs of cultural heritage organizations around the world for modern and economical information technology to create and manage inventories as a basis for informed heritage management and protection, including to prepare for and respond to armed conflicts. Arches employs international standards for cultural heritage information, is highly customizable, and can be configured for use by any organization to implement however they wish. To date, the GCI knows of nearly 100 implementations of Arches (already launched and in preparation), collectively recording heritage spanning five continents and almost sixty countries. Find out more about Arches, learn about the Getty Conservation Institute.



The Getty Center
Museum Lecture Hall
1200 Getty Center Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90049

Getting to the Getty Center

Details about getting to and parking at the Getty Center.

  • Bus from the UCLA Campus: Metro bus line 761 stops at the Getty Center entrance at the intersection of Getty Center Drive and Sepulveda Boulevard. The bus makes several stops along the UCLA Campus, i.e. Westwood/Weyburn, Hilgard/Westholme, Hilgard/Sunset, and Sunset/Bellagio. One-way trip on bus with 2 hours of free transfers on Metro costs $1.75. Download bus schedule and map, plan your bus ride with Metro Trip Planner, check information about how to purchase your bus ticket.
  • Taxi: There is a taxi stop on level P1 of the parking structure. Direct phone lines to city-licensed cab companies are located on P1 and at the Lower Tram Station (T1).
  • Passenger Drop-offs, including Lyft and Uber: Cars or vans carrying 15 or fewer passengers may drop them off at a designated turnaround area located outside of the parking structure. Passenger pick-ups are allowed in the same area.
  • Car: Download parking instructions and parking reservation number. Parking at the Getty Center is $20 per car or motorcycle; $15 after 3pm. If using a GPS device, please be aware that some give wrong directions to the Getty Center. To reach the only public entrance, use this address: N Sepulveda Blvd & Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049.


I had to fight for Bosnia. That’s how I know Ukrainians can win, and they will rebuild
By Faruk Šehić | Published in The Guardian on October 25, 2022


Event Poster

Download file: 20221202_War-on-Culture_Poster-final-nn-bv2.pdf

Sponsor(s): Center for European and Russian Studies, Center for Near Eastern Studies, Department of Slavic, East European & Eurasian Languages & Cultures, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Creative Activities, South East European Film Festival, President's International Council, J. Paul Getty Trust