Emma Cunliffe has become a trusted source for journalists reporting on damage to Syria’s cultural heritage sites, including the citadel of Aleppo. Photos: Michael Goodine and Durham University
Amidst the brutal conflict in Syria that has killed thousands and thrown the country into disarray, one of the bright spots has been the emergence of a new voice in heritage conservation: Emma Cunliffe, a 2010 Global Heritage Preservation Fellow, whose efforts to document damage to Syria’s cultural heritage sites have been referenced by major media outlets across the world.
Since being published in May, Cunliffe’s 51-page report titled “Damage to the Soul: Syria’s Cultural Heritage in Conflict” has become a popular source for journalists reporting on the destruction. In June and July, her work was featured in the New Zurich Times, the New Zealand Herald, and Popular Archaeology. She was also mentioned in a major France 24 International News wire story.
This past weekend, Cunliffe reached her biggest audience to date, when she was interviewed by National Geographic in a news story about damage to Syria’s ancient sites. In the interview, she described the decrease in security at museums and predicted that looting will “pose a bigger problem later on.” Three days later, her work was referenced by another of the world’s most widely read publications, The Wall Street Journal, in an article titled “Saving Syria.”
Cunliffe, a PhD candidate at the UK’s Durham University, was selected in 2010 to receive one of 12 inaugural Global Heritage Preservation Fellowships, which support cultural heritage preservation and community development at sites in developing countries. Cunliffe also worked as an intern at GHF headquarters in Palo Alto, California, in the summer of 2011, during which time she added a great deal of information on Syrian heritage sites to Global Heritage Network.
This year, she has shown the world that even in the wake of human tragedy, cultural heritage must not be forgotten.
“You shouldn’t only look at the people, or only at the archaeology,” Cunliffe said in her interview with National Geographic. “The people made these places. It all comes back to the people.”
Click here to visit Emma Cunliffe’s page on Global Heritage Network