National Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Brian I. Daniels

Affiliation: University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Brian Daniels is Director of Research and Programs at the Penn Cultural Heritage Center at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, Adjunct Assistant Professor with the University of Pennsylvania Department of Anthropology, Visiting Professor with the Sustainable Cultural Heritage Graduate Program at the American University of Rome, Senior Advisor for the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative, and Research Associate at the Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives.  He holds his degrees from the University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D. and M.A.) and San Francisco State University, and his area of expertise is cultural heritage, including issues of site destruction, archaeological looting, conflict archaeology, site preservation, and disaster risk management.  Dr. Daniels is the 2019/2020 AIA Wilkie Lecturer.


In recent years, the destruction and looting of archaeological, religious, and other historic sites, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, have prompted archaeologists to begin a conversation about the protection and recovery of cultural heritage during and after periods of conflict. This talk places these academic debates within the context of the Syrian conflict in the Idlib Governorate and explores the rationales given by Syrians who are themselves engaged in projects of cultural heritage recovery. By situating its discussion within this specific setting, this talk describes the manifold ways in which discourses about cultural recovery have been conceptualized as resistance to political violence by local community actors, and how these visions complicate archaeological views of recovery held by governments and international organizations such as UNESCO. This discussion is grounded by the experiences of the Safeguarding the Heritage of Syria and Iraq (SHOSI) Project, which has engaged in community-based participatory research in areas of these countries experiencing various forms of “emergency” since 2013.

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