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Heritage Justice: Mali, Global Terrorism and the ICC

Charlotte Joy, Goldsmiths

University of London 

My research is concerned with how institutions (museums, UNESCO, the ICC) articulate their vision of a common humanity through the promotion/protection of material culture. The institutions rise up after times of great inhumanity (museums/colonialism; UNESCO/2nd WW; ICC/Balkans Conflict). In each of these instances, a complex intellectual leap is made whereby the safeguarding of ‘stuff’ will lead to the safeguarding of future people through the attribution of ‘universal value’.

In this paper, I will explore the events of 2012 in Timbuktu and the subsequent successful prosecution of Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi by the International Criminal Court. The relationship between identity, dignity, cultural heritage is complex and the conflating the destruction of people with the destruction of things, being the converse of the equation that protecting things protects people, illuminates many of the tensions that exist between global institutions and their cosmopolitan projects.


January 25, 2017


Internationales Kolleg Morphomata
Weyertal 59
50937 Köln