Monday Night Lecture Series - Wesleyan University

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Wesleyan University | Center for the Humanities


Authenticity and Terror

Authenticity and Terror*

DAVID JOSELIT • Graduate Center CUNY

April 10 @ 6 P.M. | *Lecture will be at the Russell House

When ISIS destroys cultural monuments, such as the Baal Shaamin Temple of Palmyra, it is a form of terror executed in the name of fundamentalist authenticity. This lecture addresses how current global struggles are inscribed in dueling cultural policies and ideologies: spectacular iconoclasm, on the one hand, and the universalist museum of the West on the other, whose values of multicultural cohabitation masks its own history of forcibly removing cultural properties from their sites of origin. While iconoclasm is considered regressive and anti-modern, the universal museum is ideologically tied to the very foundations of modernity. This lecture will argue that we must expand our understanding of the modern in order to encompass both of these perspectives. Only then can we begin to develop an adequate cultural response to one of the most consequential conflicts of our time.

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