Many of the world’s most valuable cultural heritage sites are endangered by social persecution, armed conflict, and other forces. Historical manuscripts were burned in Timbuktu, ISIS destroyed the ancient trading center of Palmyra, and the Taliban looted ancient treasures. The Rohingya are targeted by the Myanmar government, and the Uighurs and Tibetans by the Chinese government. Whether these events are due to human error or deliberate acts of war, the destruction of cultural heritage sites threatens the wellbeing of the people.
There are several ways to protect cultural heritage. The Victoria and Albert Museum Culture in Crisis Programme brings together people and organizations with an interest in cultural heritage protection. The aim of this initiative is to raise public awareness, inspire action, and foster global cooperation. Heritage for Peace is an international association of heritage workers who believe that cultural heritage is a common ground for dialogue and peace. The organization seeks to support its members no matter their nationality or religion. If you are passionate about cultural heritage preservation, you’ll want to support these organizations and their efforts to preserve cultural heritage.
Often, cultural heritage is related to group identity. Some cultures have special claims to certain artistic styles and materials. Others may consider such practices to be immoral. Often, cultural heritage literature is concerned with the “good” of a particular culture, but that may be an overstatement. It is, however, important to remember that defining culture is a complex and contentious issue. Even those promoting cultural preservation and integrity have been accused of making misguided assumptions about particular cultures.
Cultural heritage is a collective of an individual’s traditions, culture, beliefs, and lifestyle. It includes the physical, mental, and spiritual qualities of a society. Often, a culture is the result of a long and careful selection process based on memory and oblivion. Each human society is continually choosing its political and cultural heritage. Therefore, the protection of cultural heritage is crucial. This concept is also relevant in the context of cultural exchange and understanding.
Official and unofficial heritage have different meanings and implications. Official heritage, as presented by UNESCO, is often a global concept with universal value and transcending local attachments. The emphasis on material values may impede recognition of ongoing interpretation of heritage. On the other hand, unofficial heritage, or cultural property, is often associated with bottom-up ways of sorting the past and analyzing its value. However, it is important to note that both types of cultural heritage can be subject to conflicts.
While this may seem counterintuitive, Ptolemaos realized that the cultural heritage policy was more important than political power games, which often depended on violence. The Alexandrian Enlightenment implied the first interpretation of the fusion of Greek polytheism and Jewish monotheism. The city was home to 300,000 people, including approximately 150,000 Jews. Like New York City today, Alexandria’s population included Jews and Greeks.