Think of this as more Part 1a than as Part 2. So a little more than a month ago I posted about the initiative by the US State Department to develop a new National Training Institute for the Preservation of Iraqi Cultural Heritage in Erbil, Iraq as well as how we as emerging conservators could help. While I don’t have additional information to communicate at this time, I thought I would share something I came across the other day that very strongly resonated with me about what I had posted.
I listen to a podcast program supported by National Public Radio on WNYC called Radiolab, which is hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich. Let me say to begin with that I am a big fan of this podcast and would highly recommend it. I could try describing them but they do a much better job than I do: “Radiolab believes your ears are a portal to another world. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience. Big questions are investigated, tinkered with, and encouraged to grow. Bring your curiosity, and we'll feed it with possibility” (http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/).
I usually will listen to the episodes in spurts and often save them for when I am involved with a more in-depth conservation project. The other day I was listening to an episode titled “Race” that was originally broadcasted in December 2008 and revolved around a quote by Francis Collins in 2000 following the completion of the first full mapping of the Human Genome - "the concept of race has no genetic or scientific basis." The podcast sought to delve into what does this mean and where does it leave us by exploring the issue along several avenues of thought. What grabbed my attention was the last thought of the podcast, which focused on whether we can accurately identify a person’s background from their appearance. In it, a former translator and correspondent of NPR’s Baghdad office, Ali Abbas, related about how the question of identity and appearance in Iraq today becomes an issue of life and death based on the religious tensions and violence between the Sunni and Shi’a. The difference in identity came down to the spelling/pronunciation of a name (do you say uh.mar or uh.maar?).
The podcast is just over 59 minutes long but the section I am directing you to starts at the 48 minute, 04 second mark. You can find it at the following link: http://blogs.wnyc.org/radiolab/category/podcasts/page/3/utm_source=podcasts&utm_medium=hp&utm_campaign=radiol. As you can see (or rather hear), the challenges that a program such as the Iraq Cultural Heritage Project (ICHP), which seeks to unite the Iraqi people around a shared cultural heritage rather than try to divide them, will be many. All the more reason that I again encourage you to show your support for this project and our future colleagues through the simple act of donating a book for the institute’s library.
For more information about donating, see the recent post on the AIC blog: http://blog.conservation-us.org/blogpost.cfm?threadid=1384&catid=172.