Erich Hatala Matthes

Should We Unite for Heritage? The Ethics of Cultural Heritage Preservation

Amid increasing international mobilization to protect cultural heritage threatened by war, looting, and climate change, it is essential to step back and ask: why? What justifies considerable financial expenditures and even risk to human lives for the sake of preserving ancient artifacts and structures? In this talk, we will examine some popular answers to this question, including appeals to the universal heritage of humankind and the purported link between saving heritage and saving lives, with particular attention to justifications for heritage protection in contexts of armed conflict.

Erich Hatala Matthes

Philosophy & Environmental Studies; Wellesley College

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and a member of the Advisory Faculty for Environmental Studies at Wellesley College. I completed my PhD in Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, and I was an undergraduate at Yale, where I majored in Philosophy and English (with a Writing Concentration). My primary research interests concern the ethics, politics, and aesthetics of cultural heritage, particularly with respect to art and the environment.