Flag of Ukraine                                        Cover of The Economist, March 8-11, 2022

If ever there was a need for an accurate and critical understanding of the role of cultural heritage in contemporary conflicts, that need became evident in Critical Heritage Studies with Vladimir Putin’s historically inaccurate, irredentist reconstruction of the Ukrainian past as an excuse for its attacks, accompanied by Russia’s casual and deliberate destruction of cultural heritage sites across Ukraine. Russia is defying the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and the Hague Convention’s First (1954) and Second Protocols (1999). An important recent article about the Hague Convention was published in 2023 by CHAMP’s associate director, Paul Kapp: “A reluctance acceptance: the U.S. and the Hague Convention of 1954” in The Historic Environment. Policy & Practice, volume 14, no. 2 (https://doi.org/10.1080/17567505.2023.2200069). 

The Ukrainian conflict erupted soon after the Cambridge Heritage Research Centre, under the leadership of Dr. Dacia Viejo-Rose and Dr. Marie Louise Stig Sorenson, launched CRIC: Cultural Heritage and the Reconstruction of Identities after Conflict, a four-year study (https://www.arch.cam.ac.uk/research/projects/archived-projects/cric-cultural-heritage-and-re-construction-identities-after)

CHAMP sees an opening for a new perspective in the field of cultural heritage conflict while various of its affiliated scholars already have considered cultural heritage conflict around the globe – India (Dr. Erin Riggs, Anthropology), Armenia (Dr. Donna Buchanan, Music), Thailand (Dr. Helaine Silverman, Anthropology), France (Prof. Paul Kapp, Architecture), Mexico (Dr. Benjamin Bross, Architecture) — to name just a few. Aware of the currently inflamed role of cultural heritage in conflicts in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East, a particularly bold opening for consideration now presents itself to CHAMP. Toward this end, a group of CHAMP faculty is now working to put together a curriculum – based on courses already taught – that could lead to UIUC Certificate in Cultural Heritage Conflict for our international colleagues by means of online courses offered voluntarily through CHAMP. Updates will be posted here as the proposed international program develops. When finalized it will be advertised.


CHAMP is the Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy at the University of Illinois. CHAMP is a strategic research unit dedicated to the critical study of cultural heritage and museum practices around the world. CHAMP offers an outstanding education in these areas with almost three dozen faculty members who teach a range of courses and conduct research across the globe, including in the United States. More than a dozen graduate students have worked with CHAMP at any one time, pursuing our interdisciplinary graduate minor in Heritage Studies and the interdisciplinary graduate minor in Museum Studies. CHAMP has sponsored lectures, campus and international conferences, film series and other events and its publication program of thematic edited volumes is well known. CHAMP has partnered with the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage at the University of Birmingham, UK, the Critical Heritage Studies Network at Stockholm University, Sweden, and the Cambridge Heritage Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, UK.

Helaine and Paul