Alumni

The Rape of Mesopotamia: Behind the Looting of the Iraq Museum

International Roundtable

August 20, 2009: 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

On April 10, 2003, as the world watched a statue of Saddam Hussein come crashing down in the heart of Baghdad, a mob of looters attacked the Iraq National Museum. Despite the presence of an American tank unit, the pillaging went unchecked, and more than 15,000 artifacts—some of the oldest evidence of human culture—disappeared into the shadowy worldwide market in illicit antiquities. In the five years since that day, the losses have only mounted, with gangs digging up roughly half a million artifacts that had previously been unexcavated; the loss to our shared human heritage is incalculable.

Where

Gleacher Center
608
450 Cityfront Plaza
Chicago, Illinois

Event Details

On April 10, 2003, as the world watched a statue of Saddam Hussein come crashing down in the heart of Baghdad, a mob of looters attacked the Iraq National Museum. Despite the presence of an American tank unit, the pillaging went unchecked, and more than 15,000 artifacts—some of the oldest evidence of human culture—disappeared into the shadowy worldwide market in illicit antiquities. In the five years since that day, the losses have only mounted, with gangs digging up roughly half a million artifacts that had previously been unexcavated; the loss to our shared human heritage is incalculable. With The Rape of Mesopotamia, Lawrence Rothfield answers the complicated question of how this wholesale thievery was allowed to occur. Drawing on extensive interviews with soldiers, bureaucrats, war planners, archaeologists, and collectors, Rothfield reconstructs the planning failures—originating at the highest levels of the U.S. government—that led to the invading forces’ utter indifference to the protection of Iraq’s cultural heritage from looters. Widespread incompetence and miscommunication on the part of the Pentagon, unchecked by the disappointingly weak advocacy efforts of worldwide preservation advocates, enabled a tragedy that continues even today, despite widespread public outrage. Bringing his story up to the present, Rothfield argues forcefully that the international community has yet to learn the lessons of Iraq—and that what happened there is liable to be repeated in future conflicts. A powerful, infuriating chronicle of the disastrous conjunction of military adventure and cultural destruction, The Rape of Mesopotamia is essential reading for all concerned with the future of our past. Lawrence Rothfield is the former director of the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago and associate professor of English and comparative literature. He is the author of Vital Signs: Medical Realism in Nineteenth-Century Fiction and the editor of Unsettling "Sensation": Arts Policy Lessons from the Brooklyn Museum of Art and Antiquities under Siege: Cultural Heritage Protection after the Iraq War. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing.

Cost

No Charge

Registration

Register Online

Deadline: 8/20/2009

Program

6:00 PM-6:30 PM: Networking

6:30 PM-8:00 PM: Presentation

8:00 PM-9:00 PM: Drinks at The Midway Club, Fifth Floor

Speaker Profiles

Lawrence Rothfield (Speaker)
Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, The University of Chicago
http://www.uchicago.edu

Questions

Karl Buschmann 

847 310 0412

Other Information

The Alumni Office has arranged with the AMC Theater-River East Self parking Garage to provide discounted parking. The discount will be available weekday evenings and on weekends for our alumni while attending Booth events. 300 East Illinois Street (AMC Theater-River East Self Park Garage) $6.00 after 3:00pm on weekdays and all day Saturday and Sunday for a 12-hour period Garage: Self Park Facility Payment: Automated; at pay-stations by cash or credit card or upon exit pay by credit card only. To receive discounted rate: There is a card validator at the first floor security desk of the Gleacher Center. The new system for the AMC Theater- River East Self Park Garage is automated. You will only need to insert your parking card in the validator and the new price will be automatically applied. You can validate your parking ticket at any time between your arrival at and departure from the Gleacher Center. When you leave the lot you will be charged for the lower $6.00 fee.

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