Curriculum

The minor in Heritage Studies currently offered at New York University Abu Dhabi introduces students to the theory and practices of the disciplines associated with heritage from local and global perspectives. It combines courses from various divisions at NYUAD reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of heritage studies. The program offers courses that are related to heritage production, consumption and use, identity politics, cultural contestation and legislation on one side, and scientific methods of investigation and data interpretation for the recovery and conservation of cultural heritage on the other.

Other courses are cross-listed from many different disciplines and can be found here.

World Heritage Sites and Universal Collections

Presented: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022

NYUAD course code: HERST-UH 1100

What is “World Heritage,” how is it nominated, and by whom? The heritage field has become a complex industry that involves (inter)national prestige, conservation, site management, and museum development. Heritage sites of “Outstanding Universal Value” and prestigious museums with “universal” collections are booming tourist destinations worldwide. Multi-faceted perspectives of heritage underline the proposition that heritage doesn't just represent a static link with the past, but is part of a dynamic social process that includes an evolving interpretation of “the past” for the use in the present. In this course, students explore and test theoretical conceptions of heritage using case studies and fieldwork on heritage sites and collections in Abu Dhabi and the UAE. These investigations will provide context for understanding cultural heritage's multi-layered and multi-vocal aspects. The focus for our discussions will be sites and practices that are considered “shared cultural heritage” for their Outstanding Universal Value. But what do these values mean, and for whom? Do they imply that universal human values exist? And what if these values are contested?

Lecturers: Robert Parthesius

Shipwrecks and Seascapes

Presented: 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021

NYUAD course code: HERST-UH 1500

Shipwrecks hold multiple meanings. For many, shipwrecks embody the romance of the sea and the lure of treasure. For others, shipwrecks can be seen as a unique archaeological phenomenon. More than any other archaeological site, they represent a time capsule, a snapshot of a society at a particular moment in time. This course introduces students to maritime archaeology through an exploration of underwater cultural heritage and through fieldwork and practical application of this relatively young discipline.

Lecturers: Robert Parthesius, Jonathan Sharfman

Silk Roads, Sea Routes and Shared Heritage

Presented: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022

NYUAD course code: ARTH-UH 2810

This course will explore the dynamics of artistic production along the exchange routes often referred to as the Silk Roads and related Sea Routes, stretching from China to the Mediterranean, and beyond. Through the examination of key case studies, this course will investigate exchanges ranging from the 1st to the 18th century within Asia and Europe, as well as the Americas. A special focus will be on the role of artists, traders and travelers in the Islamic world as dynamic innovators and active intermediaries within these exchanges. We will discuss the transmission of new technologies along these routes, and witness the resulting shifts in artistic production in areas such as painting, papermaking, weaving and ceramics. We will make use of textual, archaeological, and art historical sources from across this vast region to illuminate the effects of these long histories of contact.

Lecturers: Denise Marie-Teece, Robert Parthesius

Heritage Management in the Arabian World

Presented: 2021 (spring), 2021 (fall)

NYUAD course code: HERST-UH 1101X

Heritage has become a commodity. As it increasingly comes into conflict with issues of socio-economics, nation building, ethnicity, race, religion and gender, its protection and promotion have become prominent in the minds of political leaders, environmentalists, artists and tourism planners in the Arab and Islamic worlds. This has created a perceived need to manage heritage and bring it further into the public consciousness. But can heritage be objectively or equitably managed? With Arabian and Islamic identity as its focus, this class explores how the transnationalism of heritage connects cultures and subcultures as shared heritage, but at other times, heritage is a source of conflict and contestation, as is the case with several memorial and archaeological sites and art and artisan expressions of collective memory. Through case studies and meetings with regional/international institutions, such as UNESCO, and heritage practitioners, including archaeologists, artists and community activists, students study theories and management practices, while considering politics of heritage representation in the region..

Lecturers: Alia Yunis

Experimenting with the Past: Cultural Heritage Connections in the Gulf and the Western Indian Ocean

Presented: 2022 (spring)

NYUAD course code: HERST-UH 1501

How can we better understand humanity's relationship with the sea? This course applies interdisciplinary and experimental approaches to historical, archaeological and social evidence from the Bronze Age to the present to answer this question. Through analysis of sites, objects and narratives students will explore how this maritime past manifests in the heritage of the UAE and the region. The course will examine the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean as a case study for interrogating the complex human relationship with- and interdependence on- the sea throughout history and in the present. In particular, the class will focus on two periods of significant maritime expansion in the Gulf and Indian Ocean. First, it will explore the earliest origins of long-distance maritime trade in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, and then the expansion of maritime trade routes along the 'monsoon wind systems' in the Early and Middle Islamic periods, as examples of humans' ambitious engagement with their environment.

Lecturers: Robert Parthesius, Jonathan Sharfman, Eric Staples

Judging Heritage: Cultural Property Law and Preservation Policies

Presented: 2022 (spring)

NYUAD course code: HERST-UH 1502

Can objects of heritage be owned or alienated as property? Who can or cannot benefit from protecting traditional knowledge or indigenous heritage as intellectual property if infringed in developing countries? Is art fraud or forging heritage a crime against humanity or a crime against personal property? Should heritage be favored by public or private ownership? This seminar investigates society's engagement with the past and explores how history is converted into heritage and property into patrimony. By reading landmark civil and criminal cases, court dockets, and policies set by UNESCO, ICOMOS, ICCROM, UNIDROIT, WTO, WIPO, NPS students will debate what should and should not be done to protect and conserve heritage as property. They will compare how museums secure collections and curate heritage management alongside repatriation demands for the restitution of archaeological artifacts to those from which it was taken. Legal strategies including alternative dispute resolutions are reviewed to preserve tangible/intangible heritage worldwide against developing threats by armed conflict, violence, transit/destination supply markets, and the impact of climate change on tourism.

Lecturers: William Zimmerle

Past Offerings by Dhakira Center

  • Cultural Heritage in Conflict Zones and the Responsibility to Protect (J-Term), 2019
  • Field School: Fragmented Cultural Heritage Landscapes on Robben Island, 2016
  • Preservation of Global Heritage through Scientific Research, 2016
  • Places of Human Suffering as Global Heritage (J-Term NYU Ghana), 2016
  • Sharing Heritage of the Arabian Trade Routes (J-Term), 2014
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