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Out of the Ashes

Collective Memory, Cultural Loss and Recovery

Creating, destroying and recovering human knowledge and cultural heritage—these are themes with enormous contemporary resonance. They are also processes with a deep history, both in an Irish context and across the globe.

This three-year lecture series explores the theme of cultural loss and recovery across the centuries, from the Library of Alexandria in antiquity to the destruction of the Public Record Office of Ireland at the outset of the Irish Civil War in 1922. Lectures will reflect on how societies deal with cultural trauma through reconstruction and commemoration, and on how the international community should respond to contemporary acts of cultural atrocity.

The series is global in scope, pan-historical and multi-disciplinary in approach, and features a panel of international scholars and practitioners of the highest calibre

Out of the Ashes has three interrelated and interwoven themes.

Collective Memory explores the urge to collect and the social meaning of the greatest collections the world has known, including the meta-collections of the digital era. Great collections are far from value-free monuments to human creativity, especially when cultural artefacts are appropriated, suppressed, transferred, reclaimed.

Cultural Loss examines attempts to control or occlude social memory and to erase identities through the intentional destruction of cultural heritage, including major collections such as museums, archives, and libraries. This form of cultural atrocity is now subject to international war crimes prosecution.

Recovery brings these themes together by exploring the drive to recover from cultural trauma both literally (through reconstruction of lost knowledge) and also socially and collectively through the creation of sites of cultural memory.

The Out of the Ashes lecture series is generously supported by Sean and Sarah Reynolds.



2019-20 - Hilary Term
23.09.2019 Dr Saad Eskander, former National Librarian of Iraq 150 Years of Looting and Destroying Mesopotamian Antiquities: Lessons Learnt from a Painful Past’   Read More
28.01.2019 Dr Helen Walasek, University of Exeter, Google   Read More
27.01.2020

France Desmarais, Director of Programmes and Partnerships, International Council of Museums (ICOM).


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29.03.2020 Professor Philip Dwyer, Professor of History, School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Newcastle Australia Global History of Violence’   To Follow


2018-19 - Hilary Term
26.11.2018 Ismail Serageldin, Founding Director Emeritus, Bibliotheca AlexandrinaThe Library of Alexandria: Rebirth and Revolution’   Read More
28.01.2019 Dr Ed Parsons, Geospatial Technologist, Google 'The Tyranny of Ambient Location: Ephemeral Maps’   Read More
01.04.2019 Lorna Hughes, Professor of Digital Humanities, Information Studies, University of Glasgow 'The Collections in the Cave: Safeguarding Heritage in World War Two at the National Library of Wales'
Claire Breay, Head of Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts, The British Library 'Curating the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition at the British Library'
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20.05.2019 Ann Laura Stoler, Willy Brandt Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies, The New School for Social Research, New York The Labour of Forgetting: On the Politics of Disregard’   Read More
21.06.2019 Shamil Jeppie, Director of the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project and Associate Professor of History at the University of Cape Town 'Timbuktu and the Mobility of the Book in West Africa (and Beyond)' Read More

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