On 31 January 2020 Gil Pasternak was invited to deliver the talk “Digitized Contestations: Family Photographs in the Struggle Over Cultural Heritage in Israel” as part of Speaking of Photography the annual series of public lectures on the history, theory, and practice of photography, organized by the Department of Art History at Concordia University, Canada. In his talk, Pasternak explained that although for the onlooker, Israel may appear as the state of a united people and Israeli society politically coherent, the multiple range of photographic digital heritage initiatives currently prevailing in the country frame Israel as a zone of cultural conflicts. Pasternak demonstrated that, especially since the 2009 election of a right-leaning government, Israeli citizens have turned to family photographs and digital technology to document, preserve, and popularize a range of cultural heritage creations, often unauthorized by the state or its official institutions. He therefore discussed what has led Israeli citizens to use specifically family photographs in their attempts to diversify Israel’s socio-political sphere and what it can tell us about Israeli attitudes towards the state of Israel and Israeli canonical culture.
The DigiCONFLICT Research Consortium in collaboration with the Editorial Board of the biannual Santander Art and Culture Law Review (SAACLR) and as part of the Consortium’s research project Digital Heritage in Cultural Conflicts (DigiCONFLICT) is pleased to announce a Call for Papers on the impact of the digital turn on cultural heritage law and policy. Click here to view the full call, including a downloadable PDF version.
On 6 December 2019 Gil Pasternak delivered the keynote talk at the conference Photography as a Tool of Representation of Political Violence in the 20th Century, which was organised by the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Gagarin Center for Human Rights and Civil Society at Saint Petersburg State University. Entitled “At Home with ‘Palestine’: Performing Historical Photographs of the West Bank in Israeli Households”, Pasternak’s talk offered insights into the multiple roles played by popular photographic cultures in the embodiment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Israel of the post-1967 Arab-Israeli war period. It specifically focused on the participation of photographs that Jewish-Israelis captured within the West Bank in performances and celebrations of Israel’s 1967 war victory. Sketching the lives that the photographs have lived in the Jewish-Israeli household since 1967, Pasternak argued that they helped Jewish-Israeli citizens cement their perceived historical relationship to this territory at the same time as they reassured the travelers, their friends and families that their morality was intact, the country was secure, and their relationship with the Palestinians was affectionate. Pasternak then examined how the photographs in question have over time become absorbed into digital heritage projects and what role they are made to play today as visual historical documents in state-endorsed digital archives in Israel.
On 24 November 2019 Gil Pasternak spoke at the annual memorial assembly for the Jews of Piotrków Trybunalski, organised at Yad Vashem (Heichal Yahaduth Wolyn) by the Piotrków Trybunalski Jewish Association in Israel. Having accompanied members and friends of the Association on a commemoration and heritage-preservation trip to the city of their ancestors, Pasternak entitled his talk “Preserving Piotrków Trybunalski’s Jewish Heritage: Observations, Impressions, and Conclusions from Commemoration Trip 2019”. He shared with the audience some of his observations about the challenges of heritage maintenance facing the second, third, and fourth generations of Shoah survivors. Among other subjects, he discussed the options available for salvaging first-hand knowledge of Jewish life and culture in the city both during and prior to the Second World War. Dedicating part of his talk to differentiate between “collective memory” and “connected memory”, he especially highlighted the importance of cultivating a Jewish-Polish inter-communal participatory culture and the advantages of utilising informative historical photographs and digital heritage practices.
On 8 November 2019 Gil Pasternak was invited to deliver a masterclass at Dudley College of Technology. Entitled “What are Family Photographs Made to do at Home, in Public, and in Digital Heritage?”, the masterclass explored the many uses of family photographs in domestic and public contexts, and was split into three parts, each of which paid attention to different types of practices and social environments. In the first part he explored the history and development of family photography from the nineteenth century to the present day, with specific focus on conventional representational practices, distribution technologies, and the common functions of family photographs. In the second part of the class he investigated a selection of instances in which family photographs have become absorbed into the public environment, discussing what might have made family photographs, as otherwise private types of objects, most fit for purpose. Lastly, in the masterclass’ final part, Pasternak discussed the growing attention family photographs receive in cultural heritage digitisation and digitalisation initiatives. Here he was particularly concerned with the various ways in which family photographs have been used to preserve as well as salvage “forgotten” cultural heritage. Part of the class included direct interaction with the students who brought some photographs from their own family albums as a means to explore what happens to family photographs once taken out of the domestic environment, whether through digitisation, digitalised circulation, or otherwise. The event concluded in a Q&A session and panel discussion with Geoff Broadway (Project Director of The Living Memory Project), Anand Chhabra (Director of Black Country Visual Arts and founder of the Apna Heritage Archive), and Pasternak. You can read more about this event on the Black Country Visual Arts blog page.
On 8 November 2019, Gil Pasternak was invited to deliver a talk to students and members of the public at Wolverhampton School of Art, the University of Wolverhampton. Entitled “Photographs in Interpersonal Relations and Cultural Diplomacy”, Pasternak’s talk discussed the relationship of photography with political, social, and civic affairs. He used this opportunity to demonstrate the significant role that photography has played in the organisation of collective interpersonal relations since its first appearance in the nineteenth century, as well as in the formation of connected cultural knowledge and memory, since the medium’s absorption into smart communication technologies, social media, and digital archives. In particular, Pasternak explored the ways in which photographs are used in our time to manage identity politics, preserve cultural heritage, and overcome as well as administrate cultural conflicts through institutional, professional, and communal digital heritage initiatives. The event concluded in a Q&A session and panel discussion with Geoff Broadway (Director of The Living Memory Project), Anand Chhabra (Director of Black Country Visual Arts and founder of the Apna Heritage Archive), and Pasternak.
In partnership with President of Leicester Progressive Jewish Congregation Miriam Levene and Chair of Project Polska Barbara Czyznikowska, on 5 November 2019 Gil Pasternak launched and delivered a community engagement project on Polish and Jewish interrelated heritage. Entitled “Photo Storytelling: Poles, Jews and Our Interrelated Heritage”, the project was designed to help build social, cultural, and interpersonal bridges between the otherwise largely segregated UK-based Polish and Jewish communities. It employed disposable cameras, digitisation, and digitalisation practices as a means to bring together participants from both sociocultural groups to explore each other’s history, beliefs, values, and everyday realities through carefully considered photographic storytelling. Consisting of a series of workshops for approximately 20 individual volunteers from the two communities, who have been recruited via an open call, the project established an environment and the means for all participants to share, analyse, and discuss photographs that each of them produces in-between meetings. Assisted and facilitated by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Manchester, Project Polska, Leicester Progressive Jewish Congregation, and De Montfort University, the workshop’s conveners employed digital technology to generate a communal, inclusive atmosphere as well as a way to direct attention to details that may escape the participants’ attention when engaging with their photographic paper-prints. In creating and sharing photographs about their homes, families, and domestic as well as communal lives, participants entered into dialogue on their origins, backgrounds, cultural legacies and social realities alike. They touched on each other’s perceived knowledge, stereotypes, differences, and similarities to explore and understand the multiplicity of personal, historical, and cultural connections to the Polish country. Learning about the initiative through our online advertisements, a few hours before the launch BBC Radio Leicester invited the three workshop conveners to discuss its scope and intentions live, as part of the daily radio programme Jimmy and Summaya of 5 November 2019. The project will culminate in an online digital exhibition of contributions from the Jewish and Polish communities, intended to nurture appreciation of their cultural worlds as well as sensitivity to the role digital technology plays in framing, negotiating, and redefining cultural heritage more broadly.
On 27 October 2019 the photographic display Voices from Our Photo Albums opened to the public in the Akrotiri Environmental Education Centre in the village of Akrotiri, located within one of the British Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus. The occasion signified the culmination of community engagement activities that Pasternak carried out in Akrotiri earlier that month, facilitated by archaeologist Mireya González Rodríguez as part of a collaborative partnership between the DigiCONFLICT UK research team and the Ancient Akrotiri Project that runs by researchers from the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester (UK). Having digitised family albums of members of the local community, Pasternak established a digitised photographic collection capable of encouraging members of the British and Cypriot communities to engage in inter-communal explorations of local cultural heritage and their interrelated histories alike. As well as demonstrating the value of family photographs as socio-culturally informative historical sources, the display was designed as an interactive social means to enthuse more members of the local community to volunteer to develop a digital heritage archive. With approximately one hundred individuals visiting the space on the opening day, the display proved to have been a great success.
As part of a knowledge-transfer partnership between DigiCONFLICT’s UK research team and University of Leicester archaeologists from the Ancient Akrotiri Project, on 25 October 2019 Gil Pasternak co-delivered a masterclass on digitised photographic cultural heritage to year 6 pupils at Episkopi Primary School for British Service Families. Intended as an enrichment educational activity to their history curriculum, the lesson was titled “‘Old’ Photographs as Historical Sources in a Digital World” and it included many interactive exercises. Among others, the pupils were guided to consider photographs as historical primary sources, identify the advantages and limitations of photographic digital heritage, and explore what can be learnt about the history of British-Cypriot relations from the digitised versions of photographs that Pasternak helped scan from albums of Cypriot families living in Cyprus’ British Overseas Territory. To cement photographic and digital literacy alike, part of the lesson revolved around digitised photographs originally produced in Victorian England, which was one of the historical periods the pupils were studying at the time. The masterclass was designed and delivered together with Mireya González Rodríguez, Director of the Outreach and Community Engagement Programme of the Ancient Akrotiri Project.
On 24 October 2019 Alicja Jagielska-Burduk presented the paper “The Cultural Heritage Loss – Responsive Law Paradigm” at the International Symposium on the Frontier Issues of Cultural Heritage Law, organised by Renmin University of China (in Beijing). Part of a two-day event, that day was dedicated to Laws and Policies for the Return of Cultural Property Taken during the Colonial Control or Foreign Invasion (19th ~ mid-20th Century).
On 10-13 December 2019 Andrzej Jakubowski participated in the conference Restitution Dialogues at Tel Aviv University (Israel), gaving a paper on restitution-in-kind. The conference was organised by the Minerva Centre for Human Rights (Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv University), University of Toronto, and the Institute of Art and Law in Builth Wells (United Kingdom).
On 27-29 September 2019 Andrzej Jakubowski and Alicja Jagielska-Burduk participated in the annual event Professor Jan Pruszyński National Seminar for the Protection of Monuments in Lubostroń (Poland). During this meeting they took part in a discussion on new forms of cultural heritage management.
On 11-14 September 2019 Andrzej Jakubowski participated in the annual conference of the European Society of International Law (ESIL) in Athens, Greece. As one of the conveners of the ESIL Interest Group on International Law of Culture, Jakubowski co-organized one of the sessions on the 14th of September, Agora XI: Culture As or Against Sovereignty, and he also led the seminar Approaches to Culture and Sovereignty in different areas of International Law on the 12th of September, during which he gave a paper on participation in cultural heritage governance.
On 8 July 2019 Alicja Jagielska-Burduk presented the paper “Technology and Art: A Challenging Relationship” in the workshop Art, Law and Artificial Intelligence organized at the 29th World Congress of the International Association for the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy at the University of Lucerne. Additional information available here
On 21 June 2019, Gil Pasternak contributed to the workshop Photography of Victims: Interpretations, Methods & Multi-Directional Memory, which he also helped organising in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Nottingham (21-22 June 2019). Gil delivered the paper “Our Interests or Their Wishes?: Doing Community Cultural Heritage in the Age of Digital Memory”. Drawing on fieldwork and a series of case studies from Israel, Gil aimed to think through some of the challenging questions faced by communities of suffering as regards photographic cultural heritage preservation and the creation of community photographic digital heritage. In doing so, he also considered the possible role academics/scholars may play in facilitating such projects, without compromising the wishes of the communities involved nor the value of the photographic objects and images as source materials for research.
On 6-7 June 2019 Alicja Jagielska-Burduk and Andrzej Jakubowski contributed to the international conference Ratification and Implementation of the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention in Poland, co-organized by UNIDROIT, the University of Gdańsk and the University of Opole (UNESCO Chair on Cultural Property Law), in cooperation with UNESCO.
More information available here
On 24 May 2019 Gil Pasternak delivered a keynote lecture in the 5th international annual conference After Post-Photography, which was held at the European University in St Petersburg (23-25 May 2019). Entitled, “Photography in Politics: Remembering and Being Together, With Photographs”, Gil’s presentation explored how the absorption of photography into politics has aided in cementing a general understanding of photographs as memoranda, indexical records of the past, and aide-memoires more broadly. Studying how the relationship between photography and politics emerged, and what factors might have contributed to strengthening it over time, Gil began with a discussion of photography in professional politics, analyzing how statesmen have conceptualized the medium in relation to the concepts of evidence and commemoration, and how they employed it as such for political gain. Turning attention to the governed layers of society, in the second part of his talk Gil explored how photography has served them to evoke the memory of the past, in concrete efforts to contest or support rulers, state power, stagnant doctrines, and institutional histories. Lastly, in the final part of his talk Gil explored some of the roles that photography has been tasked to perform in the context of sociocultural and identity politics. Here he considered its perception as a medium capable of challenging memories of stereotypes, as well as one that is able to reshape archives and historical collections. Prioritizing examples from a variety of continents, historical moments, digital and material environments, the talk clarified how politics has affected photographic uses, practices, meanings, and also photographic digital heritage more recently, in ways that have swayed people’s memories and, thus, also their lives.