Brian I. Daniels gave a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 12:15 pm. His talk was entitled “Thinking About Cultural Heritage Now: The work of the Penn Cultural Heritage Center.”

Brian I. Daniels is the Director of Research and Programs for the Penn Cultural Heritage Center at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, a Visiting Professor in the Sustainable Cultural Heritage Graduate Program at the American University of Rome, and a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution. Daniels co-directs the Safeguarding the Heritage of Syria and Iraq Project, which aims to enhance the protection of cultural heritage by supporting professionals and activists in conflict areas. He also leads the National Science Foundation-supported Conflict Culture Research Network, a group of seventeen international universities and research organizations focused on the study of intentional cultural destruction. Concerned with indigenous rights, he has worked for over eighteen years with Native American communities on issues related to political sovereignty, cultural repatriation, and heritage preservation. He has received the Society for American Archaeology’s Presidential Recognition Award for his efforts to protect Syrian and Iraqi cultural heritage and the Lynn Reyer Award in Tribal Community Development from the Society for the Preservation of American Indian Culture for his work with Shasta Indian communities of northern California. He previously served as the manager of the National Endowment for the Humanities regional center initiative at San Francisco State University, where he worked on strategies for community engagement, outreach, and cultural documentation. He received his doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Heritage has become a keyword in the contemporary humanities and social sciences. The media now reports on cultural preservation and destruction regularly. Academics are treating critical heritage studies as a specialty. Courses about cultural heritage attract undergraduates and graduate students. Congress is legislating on heritage issues. In this presentation, Daniels argues that this embrace of cultural heritage is a response to a broad desire to make the humanities relevant in the public sphere. The Penn Cultural Heritage Center is a university-based program that has been responsive to these developments and concerns. Daniels discussed the community-based heritage preservation work that the Penn Cultural Heritage Center has developed with indigenous communities in North America and Central America and the emergency preservation projects it supports in Syria and Iraq. He also reflected about how these applied projects are situated within the intellectual growth of heritage studies.