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Tom Weiss, a specialist on humanitarian intervention and the United Nations, believes we are at a watershed moment for international cooperation on the protection of cultural heritage. In this episode, Weiss uses the ongoing civil war in Syria as a springboard to address the preservation of monuments and cultural heritage during times of humanitarian crisis and armed conflict. He traces the evolution of thinking and action on this issue, considering the role of the UN, useful legal frameworks, and how approaches to safeguarding cultural heritage might mirror approaches to protecting human rights and lives. Weiss is Presidential Professor of Political Science at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York and the author of the occasional paper Cultural Cleansing and Mass Atrocities: Protecting Cultural Heritage in Armed Conflict Zones, available for free at

An image of the Great Mosque of Aleppo with bullet holes and other damage and stacks of sandbags in the foreground.

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Cultural Cleansing and Mass Atrocities full text

JIM CUNO:  Hello, I’m Jim Cuno, president of the J. Paul Getty Trust. Welcome to Art and Ideas, a podcast in which I speak to artists, conservators, authors, and scholars about their work.

THOMAS WEISS:  There really is no need to juxtapose a hierarchy of protection—people on one sid...

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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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