U.S. Cultural Policy: People, Places, and Property in U.S. Foreign Relations

Morag Kersel

April 23, 2014 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Harris School of Public Policy
1155 E. 60th St.
Room 289B

Morag M. Kersel, DePaul University

Archaeology and archaeologists are routinely deployed as "agents of the state", acting as official and unofficial ambassadors on behalf of their countries of origin. As a result of coalition forces' failure to protect cultural institutions in Iraq, unwanted operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan and recent inactivity in protecting the cultural resources and people in places like Mali and Syria, it is essential for the U.S. to present a kinder, gentler, caring face. What better way to reconfigure negative perceptions than through archaeology and the conservation and investigation of the common history of humankind? Archaeology and archaeologists can and do play a vital role in furthering diplomatic goals and agendas in countries and areas of the world where an apolitical, non-military appearance is very desirable. Through an examination of various programs at the U.S. Department of State this discussion will assess the interplay between archaeology and cultural diplomacy in shaping U.S. cultural heritage policy and diplomatic relations in the international arena.

Morag M. Kersel is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at DePaul University. Her research considers the legal remedies employed by countries in the Eastern Mediterranean to protect against archaeological site destruction as a result of the market demand for archaeological artifacts. From 2000–2003 she administered the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation at the U.S. Department of State. She is also a Research Associate at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, where she is the co-director with Yorke Rowan of the Galilee Prehistory Project.

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