This issue of Present Pasts is comprised entirely of papers from the WAC Inter-Congress on “Overcoming Structural Violence”, held in Ramallah in August of 2009. This was a very important conference for both WAC and Palestinian archaeologists, and being held in the Occupied Palestinian Territories was not without controversy (as described in Hole 2010, and in this volume by Dodd and Boytner). This however meant that many Palestinian colleagues who would normally have difficulty travelling to international conferences were able to participate, and the papers contained here present a valuable overview of the current situation with regard to cultural heritage and structural violence in the region and beyond. As many of the participants were not fluent English speakers, all of the abstracts are also given in Arabic, and I would like to thank the authors and especially Orabi Nakhleh for their assistance with this, as well as the many peer-reviewers who gave their time.
The issue begins with Dodd and Boytner, who give an overview of the issues surrounding the conference, and introduce the papers from one of the sessions. The first of these is from Taha (an overview of Palestinian archaeology at the moment), followed by Fahel (preparation for negotiations on archaeology with Israel), al-Houdalleh (summarising the state of heritage institutions in the PNT), el-Jubeh (on how to prepare for future management of Palestinian heritage), Sayej (on the need to engage local communities) and Yahya (on the Palestinian-Israeli Draft Agreement on Archaeological Heritage).
The next papers deal with specific case studies – Rjoob presents the situation in the Hebron district, Hawari looks at the Citadel of Jerusalem, Yahya investigates the looting of heritage sites, Iwais et al. report on the destruction of archaeology at three West Bank locations, and Butler describes the creation of a Palestinian National Museum Policy. Concentrating now specifically on structural violence, Starzmann argues for the politically conscious practice of archaeology in Palestine, while Bernbeck compares the imperialist networks of ancient Assyria and the United States. The issue is then rounded-out with more international papers – Schipper and Eichberger describe the implementation of the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict in Austria, Eichberger proposes a method for the optimal storage of movable objects during armed conflict, Infantini and Poloni look at the relationship between archaeology and the authoritarian state in Portugal, and finally Sands and Butler report on the Next Generation Project, which seeks to develop communication among student and early career archaeologists.
Dodd, L and R Boytner 2010 The Future of Palestinian Cultural Heritage. Present Pasts 2(1):12-25, doi:10.5334/pp.18.
Hole, B 2010 Overcoming Structural Violence: The WAC Inter-Congress in Ramallah August 2009. Public Archaeology 9(1):48–57, doi:10.1179/175355310X12657988535588.