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Feb. 23-24: Protecting world treasures from war

By Adriana Aumen, College of Arts & Sciences

Joris-Kila-in-MaliPULLMAN, Wash. – A world leader in rescuing precious objects of cultural heritage from the ravages of war will present two free, public addresses at Washington State University Feb. 23-24.

Joris-Kila-on-the-road-to-Timbuktu-in Mali 2014-web
Joris Kila and associates on the road to Timbuktu in Mali in 2014.

Joris D. Kila will speak about “Protection and Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Contemporary Conflict” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, in the CUB auditorium. He will present a Foley Institute talk, “Destroying cultural heritage: The failure to protect artifacts from extremist groups,” at noon Tuesday, Feb. 23, in Bryan 308.

Kila ( is a member of the U.S. Combat Commands Cultural Heritage Action Group and chair of the International Cultural Resources Working Group. He is a veteran of cultural emergency missions in areas of armed conflict, including Libya, Egypt and Iraq.

“Dr. Kila works closely with Karl von Habsburg, grandson of the last emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in North Africa and the Middle East to protect cultural heritage from theft, damage and destruction in the ongoing conflicts,” said Patricia Glazebrook, professor of philosophy and director of the School of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs at WSU.

Combating ISIS business model

Widely regarded as the cradle of civilization, North Africa and the Middle East house a rich cultural heritage of art and artifacts dating back to the earliest known human settlements.

“Today, these treasures are under threat from armed conflicts,” Kila said. “Though legal frameworks for protection are in place, the institutions tasked with this protection have been unable to safeguard cultural property that is being destroyed, damaged, stolen and smuggled away.”

Kila will present his original research examining a business model for cultural appropriation that he attributes to the terrorist group ISIS (Daesh) and other evidence he collected of damaged and lost material culture in Syria, Mali, Egypt, Iraq and Libya.

“Based on his experience at the frontline of this struggle, Dr. Kila will propose solutions to prevent further destruction of a shared heritage that has been preserved and passed down to us over thousands of years,” Glazebrook said.

Available for media interviews

While at WSU, Kila will meet with students, faculty and researchers in politics, history, art, philosophy and other study areas.

He will be available for media interviews on Tuesday, Feb. 23, and via Skype by appointment. Contact Stephanie Ficca in the School of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs at or 509-335-2544.

Based in The Hague, Netherlands, Kila is a senior researcher at the University of Vienna and a reserve lieutenant colonel in the Dutch army. He was trained as an art historian and classical archaeologist at Leiden University and holds a Ph.D. in cultural sciences from the University of Amsterdam. Learn more about him at

Kila’s visit to WSU is sponsored by the School of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs ( with support from the College of Arts and Sciences; the Department of History George and Bernadine Converse Historical Endowment; the Department of English; the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service; and the PPPA Graduate Student Association.


Patricia Glazebrook, WSU School of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 509-335-2544,
Adriana Aumen, College of Arts and Sciences communications, 509-596-5353,
Stephanie Ficca, WSU School of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 509-335-2544,



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