ECHGS Hub conference, 15 Nov 2023 (online)

The Endangered Cultural Heritage in the Global South Hub (ECHGS)

echgs logo

The Endangered Cultural Heritage in the Global South Hub (ECHGS) provides a focal point for research on Cultural Heritage challenges in the Global South, especially ODA eligible countries of the Middle East and Africa. The Hub complements and extends the existing Oxford University Heritage Network (OUHN) with a stress on the social science dimensions of cultural heritage.

The ECHGS will facilitate interdisciplinary research on how cultural heritage is created, identified, valued, and protected by local populations, experts, international agencies, and academics and threatened by conflict, climate change, and development. The longstanding relationships between the first world and the Global South make cultural heritage both a critical focus for decolonization debates and actions, and central to highly topical discussions regarding UK (and international) Official Development Assistance (ODA) programmes. The ECHGS will also serve as a hub for hosting large open-access databases of cultural heritage and archaeology in Oxford, facilitating multi-disciplinary research on the cultural heritage of the Global South.

The ECHGS will also provide a vehicle for engagement with relevant external stakeholders in the UK and in the Global South, including NGOS, the media, government departments and policymakers, funders, and communities. We will examine the connection between cultural heritage (tangible and intangible), people, and place, where cultural heritage creates social identities, yet the connection to place is threatened by climate change, conflict, development, and tourism.

Numerous staff and DPhil students across the Social Sciences Division currently undertake research on or related to endangered cultural heritage in the Global South. The range of disciplinary approaches and affiliations has meant that many researchers work in isolation despite the work of the OUHN, often relatively unaware of the shared and compatible research interests present, or the multiple research perspectives and potential theoretical, methodological, and case synergies. Many people working in this area are graduate students or on fixed term contracts which means that without some form of institutional platform there are significant risks of loss of knowledge and continuity through staff turnover. ECHGS will bridge the gaps between individual, departmental and disciplinary interests through workshops, seminars, and the shared production of funding applications.

The team and contact points:

Bill Finlayson

Tim Clack

Bijan Rouhani

The ECHGS Conference 15 November 2023

 Reporting Heritage Destruction: A Double-Edged Sword?

Call for Papers


The destruction and threats posed to cultural heritage in conflicts, terrorist operations, and instances of political and social unrest by both state and non-state actors have brought significant attention to the human rights implications associated with cultural heritage. Impartial and objective reporting on such destruction plays a vital role in raising awareness, monitoring, documenting, and mitigating these threats. It ensures that victims of destruction are given a voice and acknowledged, facilitates the gathering of evidence for potential prosecution, and encourages measures for protection or reconstruction. However, it is crucial that reporting on heritage destruction takes into account cultural, ethnic, racial, gender, religious, and other human rights considerations. Failure to do so can result in discrimination, negative emotions, shame, and dissatisfaction among communities and individuals. Moreover, it can be exploited as political propaganda or transformed into 'war tourism' without proper consideration of the broader socio-political context of conflicts and crises.

The aim of the conference, titled "Reporting Heritage Destruction: A Double-Edged Sword?" is to explore comprehensively the various dimensions of reporting on the destruction of cultural heritage, including its portrayal in mainstream media, social media, and its relationship with academia and communities.

The online conference is organised by the Endangered Cultural Heritage in the Global South (ECHGS) Hub, in the School of Archaeology of the University of Oxford, bringing together a diverse group of academics and journalists specialising in cultural heritage.

We cordially invite all interested researchers and journalists to submit abstracts, which should not exceed 300 words, for short presentations, to by September 10th. The submissions should address one of the conference themes outlined below.

The conference themes are:

Theme 1: Who owns and values cultural heritage?  

Key speaker and theme presenter: Dr Ammar Azzouz, University of Oxford

Theme 2: Cultural Heritage as a human right

Key speaker and theme presenter: Professor Karima Bennoune, University of Michigan 

Theme 3: Media reporting and heritage destruction

Key speaker and theme presenter: Mr Sebastian Usher, Middle East editor at BBC News

The conference will also discuss draft recommendations for reporting heritage destruction developed by the working group, which will be available online before the conference. The agreed recommendations will be published separately online.

Papers presented by the speakers during the online conference will be published in an Open-Access book subsequent to the conference. High-quality papers which are not accepted for the conference may still be invited to contribute to the book.

Important dates:

Abstracts: 10th of September 2023.

Notification of acceptance: By mid-September 2023.

A 2-page document including key points of the paper by 30th October 2023 for circulation before the meeting.

Online conference: 15th November

Full paper for publication (8,000 words including references): by 31st January 2024.

Why an online conference?
We appreciate the benefits of face-to-face conferences, particularly in terms of networking and facilitating interdisciplinary communication. However, we also acknowledge the potential of online conferences to facilitate broader participation among researchers, colleagues, and speakers, particularly those from developing countries, while minimising financial and time burdens. Additionally, our dedication to reducing our carbon footprint and addressing climate change aligns with Oxford University's core policies, making online conferences an environmentally conscious choice.

Open this PDF to read more about the conference themes: 

If you want to learn more about the initiative concept note and the discussions of the Working Group about the guidelines please click on the linked PDFs here:

Organising Committee

Bijan Rouhani: Senior Researcher, EAMENA, School of Archaeology, Oxford. Member of Endangered Cultural Heritage in the Global South Hub (ECHGS), Oxford.

Bill Finlayson: Director, EAMENA, School of Archaeology, Oxford. PI of Endangered Cultural Heritage in the Global South Hub (ECHGS).

Timothy Clack. Chingiz Gutseriev Fellow in Archaeology and Anthropology, Oxford. Co-PI of Endangered Cultural Heritage in the Global South Hub (ECHGS).

Working Group: Ammar Azzouz (Oxford), Sussan Babaie (Courtauld Institute); Robert Bevan (Journalist, Author and heritage consultant), Amy Bogaard (Oxford), Tim Clack (Oxford); Jacob Davey (ISD); Faisal Devji (Oxford); Cecile Fabre (Oxford); Bill Finlayson (Oxford); Stephanie Grant (British Council); Richard Hughes (ICOMOS UK); Maev Kennedy (The Guardian); Eliya Lucks (Oxford); Charlotte Marriott (DCMS); Lynn Meskell (University of Pennsylvania), Vernon Rapley (V&A); Bijan Rouhani (Oxford); Sebastian Usher (BBC World).