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Conservation and Development

Headbands on display at the Centre for Cultural Expression Koge Ekureu in the Bororo village of Merure, Mato Grosso, Brazil (Image courtesy of the Centre)

Kurdish Textile Museum Weaving

The social and political aspects of conservation

Conservation decision-making processes are influenced by local, national and international socio-economic factors associated with the contexts where they take place.  Conversely, conservation can also significantly affect socio-economic development and lead to improvements in people’s lives.

Conservation of material heritage may revitalize intangible aspects of cultural traditions embodied in material fabric. The practice of conservation can promote economic prosperity, support disaster recovery, and foster social cohesion among different groups.  At the same time, however, conservation may be used to shape political and economic development following agendas that may not correspond to the needs or desires of the local communities where it is implemented. Conservators need to be aware of these underlying processes so as to be able to make informed and engaged decisions.

This research network brings together researchers to critically examine the potential impact of conservation in social and political arenas. The results of this research network will foster conservation practices relevant to socio- cultural, economic and/or ecological contexts of areas in need for development, areas of post-conflict reconstruction (ongoing conflict and/or conflict prone will also be considered), or reconstruction due to natural disasters.

Conservation at San Cristoval de Rapaz, PeruMan preparing a velcro support at the Kurdish Textile Museum

Our main aims are to:

  • Identify and elaborate on how the practice of conservation can impact on people’s wellbeing and quality of life
  • Engage local groups in re-construction and/or development of their socio-cultural life through the practice of conservation
  • Explore cross-disciplinary collaborations between academics and professionals involved in cultural and environmental conservation (in both practical and theoretical levels)
  • Identify available local resources and study the prospects to use it
  • Develop ways to make the practice of conservation sustainable
  • Find links between material heritage conservation and environmental conservation, especially in cases where biodiversity and ecology play strong roles in the lives of local people

Members of CDRN are currently collaborating with various projects, including:

  • The Origins of the Acheulean in East Africa (ORACEAF)
    Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania) is the site where the earliest Acheulean was first discovered, and where the traditional view of the Oldowan-Acheulean transition was first established. The multidisciplinary character of the ORACEAF project is providing an integrative perspective to the analysis of the paleoecology, archaeology, geology and geochronology of the early Acheulean at Olduvai. Renata Peters and IoA conservation students are now working on a long-term conservation project for the material obtained from recent excavations. 
  • Archaeology, Heritage and Civilisation in Iraqi Kurdistan
    The Shahrizor Plain, where UCL has been permitted to work, lies in the province of Suleimaniya, within the heartlands of what was once referred to as the ‘Cradle of Civilisation’; the region in which farming, urban life and literacy began. Although the project is in early stages of development R Peters, F Ravaioli and colleagues working in Kurdistan are working on a sustainable conservation policy for material that happens to be unveiled by the forthcoming excavation season.

Related outputs

Conference 2014

The CDRN will organise a two-day conference at the Institute of Archaeology (16-17 May 2014) on the impact of cross-disciplinary conservation on social development. Further information is available on the dedicated conference webapges here»

  • Seminars

    • Nancy Odegaard (Arizona State Museum and University of Arizona) will discuss the completion of a recent multi-disciplinary conservation project focusing on archaeological woven artefacts at the Arizona State Museum. Further details»
  • Conference papers

    • Cassman, V. Johnson, J. S. & Odegaard, N.  2011.  Building a Museum Conservation Community in Iraq.  Plying the Trades: Pulling Together in the 21st Century.  8th North American Textile Conservation Conference, 8-12 November, 2011, Oaxaca, Mexico.
    • Deisser, A., Eastop, D. & Sipan, L. 2010. Cultural heritage conservation as a medium of social integrity after political, social and economic disruption in Iraqi Kurdistan. 22nd General Conference of ICOM: Museums for Social Harmony, 7-12 November 2010, Shanghai, China.
    • Deisser, A., Eastop, D. & Sipan, L. 2011. Conservation as a process of representation: The Kurdish Textile Museum of Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. 8th North American Textile Conservation Conference, Plying the Trades: Pulling Together in the 21st Century, 8-12 November 2011, Oaxaca, Mexico.
    • Johnson, J. S. & Drayman-Weisser, T.  2011. Archaeological Conservation at the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage.  Paper presented at the International Meeting on Iraqi Archaeology: New Research, New Projects,  Erbil - Iraqi Kurdistan, 31 October -2 November, 2011
    • Johnson, J. S., 2011.  Educating Iraqi Professionals in Conservation and Preservation: Expanding Knowledge and Understanding.  Saving Cultural Heritage in Crises Areas, 4-5 November 2011, American Academy in Rome.
    • Johnson, J. S., 2011.  Teaching Archaeological Conservation in Iraq.  Poster presented at the Archaeological Institute of America meeting 6 January, 2012.
  • Publications

    • Cassman, V. Johnson, J. S. & Odegaard, N.  2011.  Building a Museum Conservation Community in Iraq.  Plying the Trades: Pulling Together in the 21st Century.  8th North American Textile Conservation Conference, 8-12 November, 2011, Oaxaca, Mexico.
    • Deisser, A. 2009. The socio cultural impact of the preservation of an historical site on the conservation of tangible and intangible heritage: The case of the Citadel of Erbil and the Kurdish Textile Museum. In F. Le Duc (ed) Culture as a tool for development: challenges of analysis and action. Bruxelles: Arcade, Acted & European Commission,128-135. http://arcade.acted.org/images/arcade_livre_et_couv_BD.pdf
    • Deisser, A., Eastop, D. & Sipan, L. 2011. Conservation as a process of representation: The Kurdish Textile Museum of Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. 8th North American Textile Conservation Conference, Plying the Trades: Pulling Together in the 21st Century, 8-12 November 2011, Oaxaca, Mexico, 137-154. 

Network Co-ordinator:


Network Members:

  • Rebecca Bennett (UCL/IoA alumna)
  • Dimitrios Chatzigiannis
  • Anne-Marie Deisser (University of Nairobi, Department of History and Archaeology)
  • Jessica Johnson (University of Delaware, Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage)
  • Caitlin O'Grady
  • Flavia Ravaioli (UCL/IoA alumna)
  • Tracey Sweek (British Museum)

Keywords:


Further information:

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