Cultural Destruction, Technology, and the Future of Human Rights Practice

Cultural Destruction, Technology, and the Future of Human Rights Practice

Historical Archive of the Islamic Community of Kosovo, torched by Serbian police 13 June 1999; cropped. © Oleg Popov. Reprinted with permission.

Roundtable discussion with Brad Samuels (SITU, New York), Andras Riedlmayer (Harvard University), Hariz Halilovich (Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University, Australia), and Robert Farley (Comparative Literature, UCLA). Part 1 of the two-part series “Evidence and Human Rights in a Post-Truth World: A Multidisciplinary Symposium."

Friday, January 17, 2020
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
111 GSE&IS Building

Image for RSVP ButtonImage for Calendar ButtonImage for Calendar Button

Roundtable Presentations:

  • “Facts, Narratives, Truths: Technology and the Future of Human Rights Practice” (Brad Samuels, SITU, New York)
  • “Cultural Heritage in the Courtroom: Documentation and Evidence on Cultural Destruction at the ICTY” (Andras Riedlmayer, Harvard University)
  • “A Tale of Three Bridges: destruction, reconstruction and appropriation of common cultural heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina” (Hariz Halilovich, Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University, Australia)
  • “Demonstration: Technology in Practice” (Robert Farley, PhD Candidate, Department of Comparative Literature, UCLA)

About the speakers:

Robert Farley is a Ph.D. Candidate in Comparative Literature at UCLA. He is an Arabic scholar, translator and instructional technology consultant. His research interests include gender and sexuality studies, area studies, cultural studies, and anthropology.

Hariz Halilovich, social anthropologist and writer, is Professor and Vice-Chancellor's Senior Research Fellow at the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University, Melbourne. He has received a number of prestigious research and writing awards in Australia and internationally.

Andras Riedlmayer is a Harvard scholar and librarian. He served as a key witness in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) regarding the destruction of Islamic mosques, libraries and other cultural sites during the 1990s wars in Yugoslavia.

Brad Samuels is Founding Partner at SITU. Trained as an architect, he leads a team of designers, computer scientists, researchers and planners to develop new tools and methods for human rights fact finding and reporting. Recent work includes an immersive 3D evidentiary platform for the International Criminal Court; an event reconstruction commissioned by the Organization of American States (OAS) that examines police violence against protesters in Nicaragua; and an interactive report for the Ukrainian National Court that analyzes civilian fatalities during the Euromaidan protests. He also teaches in the Barnard+Columbia undergraduate architecture program.

This workshop continues Part 1 of the series “Evidence and Human Rights in a Post-Truth World: A Multidisciplinary Symposium" taking place on January 16 and 17, 2020. Part 2 of the series will take place on February 21 and 22, 2020.


About the series:

The arena of human rights documentation has never been more critical to global justice, and is also undergoing radical change as a result of new systems of evidentiary production inspired by satellite and other innovative information technologies. Geospatial and sensing technologies include a range of tools used in the discovery, collection, presentation, analysis and management of location-based data. These tools are changing how we see and interpret suffering bodies, infrastructural destruction and cultural as well as human genocide. They are raising questions about whether mass atrocities and other violence committed against large numbers of civilians are demonstrable and prosecutable through new digital forms of forensic practice. At the same time, they raise the hopes and expectations of survivors of victims and the missing, who are clamoring for evidence collected by citizens and NGOs to be accorded the same evidentiary authority as that created by government authorities.

This two-part lecture/workshop series explores the politics, aesthetics, affect, and interpretation of geospatial images as well as the architectures of knowledge production and the challenges that emerge when using these technologies. By inviting key leaders in the field for two 2-day events during Winter Quarter 2020 (January 16-17 and February 21-22), we will engage in discussion concerning how social scientists, lawyers, human rights advocates, architects and artists use these technologies to produce composite knowledge about critical events.

Organizers (UCLA): Kamari Clarke (Anthropology), Anne Gilliland (Graduate School of Education & Information Studies/Archival Studies), Laurie Kain Hart (Anthropology/Global Studies), Saloni Mathur (Art History), Susan Slyomovics (Anthropology/Near Eastern Languages and Cultures)


Cost : Free and open to the public. RSVP required for admission.

Sponsor(s): Center for European and Russian Studies, Center for Near Eastern Studies, Anthropology, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, Art History, The Promise Institute for Human Rights, UCLA School of Arts and Architecture, UCLA Arts Initiative, UCLA Interdisciplinary and Cross Campus Affairs, The Wende Museum