On Tuesday 16 March 2021, the MA in Sustainable Cultural Heritage at The American University of Rome hosted an exclusive seminar led by Dr. Laurie Rush who examined the role that cultural heritage has come to play in conflict zones and militarized areas around the world.

Dr. Laurie Rush

Speaking to an audience of almost 200 participants drawn from global governmental, educational, and heritage protection organizations plus a large number of keenly interested students, Dr. Rush, who has over 16-years direct experience of working with NATO, the US Army, and associated heritage protection organizations, covered the period from the start of Operation Unified Protector to the current day - and what the future holds for heritage protection worldwide.

In recent years cultural heritage, or rather the threat of its destruction, has become weaponized as a means of terrorizing communities, gaining global attention, radicalizing followers, and propagating cultural genocide. Dr. Rush analyzed how military forces and organizations such as NATO respond to this increasingly sophisticated use of cultural heritage as a strategic weapon in contemporary conflicts and addressed the challenges that face us today in protecting cultural heritage and preserving community identity during war.

You can view the entire seminar, including the highly informed question and answer session, below.

Dr. Laurie Rush is an Anthropologist and Archaeologist who has served as a US Army civilian for over twenty years managing Cultural Resources at Fort Drum, NY. and serving as Native American Affairs Liaison. Dr. Rush was the military liaison for the return of the Mesopotamian City of Ur to the Iraqi People in 2009, represented US Central Command at Environmental Shuras in Kabul in 2010, and analyzed cultural property protection lessons learned from the Iraq and Afghan conflicts for the US Central Command Environmental Program. Dr. Rush is internationally recognized as a specialist concerning the importance of military education and operations planning for cultural property protection in crisis areas.