In keeping with current Covid-19 recommendations, this workshop will follow a hybrid format. The presentation will occur in-person with a small audience of Penn faculty and students and will be streamed via Zoom for all those wishing to join remotely. Participants on Zoom will be able to participate in the Q+A.
Banking on Petra: Archaeological Adventurism and the Politics of Preservation
Lynn Meskell, PIK Professor of Anthropology; Professor of Historic Preservation, Weitzman School of Design
Situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea and inhabited since prehistoric times, Petra is best known as the rock-cut capital city of the Nabateans. UNESCO considers it to be one of the world's richest and largest archaeological sites and listed Petra as World Heritage in 1985. But it also has a remarkable 20th-century history similarly tied to shifting empires and occupation, trade, and economics, that was subject to the forces of nationalism and internationalism. Scholars have recently described how colonial legacies and post-WWII neoliberal agendas influenced UNESCO, the World Bank, and USAID in shaping Jordan’s approach to heritage. I want to follow those logics to reveal how developing Petra brought together strands of government, military, corporate, and archaeological interest in a kind of adventurism that was, in many ways, an extension of the colonial enterprise. In my talk today I attempt to uncover some of the dense network of social, political, and economic agendas that were at play in preserving and promoting Petra.