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Our Research

In keeping with the Smithsonian’s mission of “increasing and diffusing knowledge,” our researchers on cultural heritage and disasters strive to engage in scholarship, convene symposia on the topics of cultural heritage preservation, and make those findings accessible to you.  

Collaborative Research

National Science Foundation Grant

Building Community and Capacity: Developing a Research Community and Capacity for the Study of Cultural Heritage in Conflict

Recognizing that the study of cultural heritage in conflict situations would benefit from an intensive planning period in order to organize a research community that can effectively utilize and develop large-scale data resources, the University of Pennsylvania, the Smithsonian Institution, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science applied for and received a collaborative National Science Foundation (NSF) grant.

Using methods developed and employed in political science, geography, sociology, and anthropology to develop common definitions and coding standards, the convening an experienced interdisciplinary working group has enabled the future development of datasets about the intentional destruction of cultural heritage sites. Understanding the social dynamics that contribute to the destruction of cultural heritage in conflict will therefore necessitate collaboration among willing scholars and the production of new datasets for analysis. This framework will be tested with real-world data coming from the present conflict in Syria.

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Smithsonian Grand Challenges Consortia Grant

Uniting to Save World Cultures: Investigating the Attributes of Successful Emergency Cultural Heritage Protection Interventions

As part of a generous grant provided by John and Carolyn Peterson Family Fund via the Smithsonian Institution Grand Challenges Consortia, a pan-institutional, interdisciplinary group was formed, committed to building capacity by collaborating on research projects and uniting groups for the greater mission of saving world cultures. Find abstracts of current scholarship published by Smithsonian scholars and associated scholars.

Uniting to Save World Cultures

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This 2015 conference aimed to highlight and disseminate illustrative case studies that can assist in identifying the key attributes associated with the successful protection of cultural heritage during complex emergencies.

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Conflict Culture Research Network

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In 2014, the University of Pennsylvania Museum, SCRI, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science launched a project to study “conflict culture”—the heritage of communities attacked during periods of war or violence.

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