Arts and Culture

Anthropology exhibit explores World Heritage sites

A Department of Anthropology student exhibit explores how the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage sites are selected and addresses how some aren’t being preserved.

The exhibit, “Debating Heritage: UNESCO’s World Heritage Site Program,” is on display through March 28 at the Museum of Anthropology in Sturm Hall Room 102.

“This topic is relevant because not many people are aware of this program created by UNESCO,” says Dolores Peralta, the second-year anthropology graduate student who created the exhibit.

UNESCO adopted an international treaty in 1972 to protect cultural and natural heritage sites that are considered “to be of outstanding value to humanity.” There are 851 sites listed so far.

“The program is controversial because, as in all public policy — local, national, or international  — it always comes down to who decides what gets preserved and why,” says Christina Kreps, associate professor of anthropology.

“I also think the topic is important because Americans are not very familiar with the work of UNESCO. The U.S. government pulled out of UNESCO for political reasons back in 1984 and rejoined a few years ago,” Kreps says. “It is the arm of the United Nations (UN) that funds and addresses education, science and culture on a global level, and like other UN agencies, is an example of how countries can work together on issues of international concern.”

Peralta’s photographic exhibit highlights three World Heritage Sites. The sites are the Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba (farming estates) in Argentina, Old Havana and its Fortifications in Cuba and Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.

The exhibit is free and open to the public. The museum is a teaching museum dedicated to educating students about the practices of conservation, interpretation and administration of anthropological collections. It is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

To accommodate a wider audience, the information displayed in the exhibit is offered in both English and Spanish.

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