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“The society we now live in has been, in large measure, accomplished by destroying the cultural heritage of previous generations at various moments.”

Cultural heritage is made up of the monuments, works of art, and practices that a society uses to define and understand itself and its history. The question of exactly which monuments or practices should be considered cultural heritage evolves as the society changes how it views itself—and, perhaps more importantly, how it views its future. This slippery definition of heritage is at the core of many of the challenges preservationists and heritage professionals face today.

In this episode, hosted by former Getty President Jim Cuno, Neil MacGregor and Kavita Singh discuss who gets to define cultural heritage and why that matters, using examples pulled from the French Revolution to contemporary Sri Lanka.

Neil MacGregor is the former director of the National Gallery, London, the British Museum, and the Humboldt Forum in Berlin. Kavita Singh is professor at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. MacGregor and Singh are contributors to the recent publication Cultural Heritage and Mass Atrocities, edited by Jim Cuno and Thomas G. Weiss and available free of charge from Getty Publications.

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Cultural Heritage and Mass Atrocities

JAMES CUNO: Hello, I’m Jim Cuno, former president of the J. Paul Getty Trust. Welcome to Art + Ideas. I am your host for a three-episode series on the need to protect cultural heritage during times of war and mass atrocities.
Neil MacGregor: The society we now live in has been, in large m...

Music Credits
“The Dharma at Big Sur – Sri Moonshine and A New Day.” Music written by John Adams and licensed with permission from Hendon Music. (P) 2006 Nonesuch Records, Inc., Produced Under License From Nonesuch Records, Inc. ISRC: USNO10600825 & USNO10600824

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This post is part of Art + Ideas, a podcast in which Getty president Jim Cuno talks with artists, writers, curators, and scholars about their work.
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