Harvard librarian puts this war crime on the map

first_img The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. “This is certainly not something I thought I’d be doing in my work as a librarian,” Riedlmayer said. “But if you really want to make a librarian mad, burn down a library.”Riedlmayer has worked as the bibliographer in Islamic Art and Architecture at the Fine Arts Library since 1985. He has always been interested in the region of the former Ottoman Empire, which includes the Middle East as well as parts of Hungary, where Riedlmayer was born, and the Balkan Peninsula.,In 1992, when he read about the burning of the National Library, Riedlmayer knew it was an attack on more than physical objects. It was what he later testified to being “cultural heritage destruction”: intentional and unnecessary destruction of sites and records that act as a community’s collective memory.The crime comes from a desire to not only kill individuals who are part of an ethnic or religious group, Riedlmayer explained, but to erase their existence, “remove any evidence that they were ever there to begin with, and give them no reason to come back.”In the case of the Balkan region, cultural heritage destruction was part of attempted ethnic cleansing by the Serbian nationalist government led by Milosevic. The nationalists came to power amid destabilization in the former Yugoslavia and began targeting Bosnian Muslims, Kosovar Albanians, and other non-Serbs. They destroyed everything from ancient mosques to property records, all later presented as evidence by Riedlmayer when he gave expert testimony against Milosevic during the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).,Alex Whiting, a Harvard Law School professor and former prosecutor for the ICTY, credits Riedlmayer’s thorough documentation with lasting change in how cultural heritage destruction is viewed.“In cases where thousands of people have been brutalized, driven from their homes, tortured, and murdered, trying to get the court to focus on destruction of churches or monuments can be hard,” Whiting said. “[Riedlmayer’s] work showed this was more than just destruction of buildings … cultural genocide is a people being attacked.”Riedlmayer saw this firsthand during several visits to the Balkan region in the late 1990s and early 2000s.After years of studying and writing about the conflict, and even collecting book donations to help rebuild libraries in the region, Riedlmayer finally went to the Balkans in 1999 on a grant to document architectural cultural destruction.He found sheer chaos: villages without electricity or postal service; landmines buried in roadsides. Streets were crowded with people trying to get news by word of mouth, and walls were “absolutely plastered with funeral notices,” Riedlmayer recalled.Despite the horrific circumstances, he said, the people he met were “amazing,” and they wanted their stories told.That year, he visited more than 100 religious and cultural sites that had been deliberately destroyed during the conflict. He photographed and catalogued Catholic churches with collapsed steeples and mosques reduced to scattered stones covered with garbage. He collected the charred remains of books and, in one case, pages from a Quran desecrated by Serbian soldiers.,When Riedlmayer first found the ripped, dirty pages in a crumbling mosque, he thought to ask a village elder before taking them as evidence.“These aren’t books anymore; we can’t use them,” Riedlmayer said the man told him. “Take them and show the world what was done.”Riedlmayer left the region with an “enormous sense of responsibility” to the people he’d met. He had learned the United Nations wanted his findings as evidence of war crimes, and he felt this was his chance to give Balkan victims a voice on an international stage.A year later, Riedlmayer came face-to-face with Milosevic, who was representing himself in the ICTY trial. Being cross-examined by the dictator was surreal, Riedlmayer said, but he was armed with a database of images and stories from the people Milosevic had victimized.“I realized I knew more, and cared more, about this than he did,” Riedlmayer said.Over the next 10 years, Riedlmayer was asked by the U.N court to compile additional expert reports on the destruction in the Balkans. He ultimately testified against 14 Serbian and Bosnian Serb officials accused of war crimes. Though Milosevic died of a heart attack before the ICTY delivered a verdict in his case, 11 of the others were convicted and sent to prison.Beyond the guilty verdicts, Riedlmayer and Whiting saw the tribunal as a victory for understanding cultural destruction in wartime. Though it had been on the books since the Hague Convention of 1954, cultural heritage destruction as a war crime was prosecuted for the first time by the ICTY.,The tribunal “put this crime on the map,” Whiting said. “It’s now part of the discussion; it shapes how people understand war and what’s permitted in war.”He noted that last week, when President Trump threatened to destroy cultural sites in Iran, he was met with immediate backlash and had to walk back his statements.“That means something right there,” Whiting said.Riedlmayer said he hopes the precedent set by the ICTY will prevent at least some future destruction of cultural sites.But he is not done with his work to show the world what transpired in the Balkans in the 1990s. He continues to speak and write about his findings. The documents and photographs he collected in the Balkans are now also accessible to researchers as part of the Fine Arts Library’s special collections.Preserving and publicizing records of the destruction is Riedlmayer’s ongoing pursuit of justice and closure for those who lost so much in the conflict. He still feels the weight of responsibility to the victims he met in 1999, he explained. “Their stories are still being told.” In August 1992, in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo, nearly 2 million books went up in flames.Fragile, 500-hundred-year-old pamphlets and vibrant Ottoman-era manuscripts disintegrated into ash as the building holding them, the National Library of Bosnia-Herzegovina, was shelled and burned. It was not the first act of cultural destruction by Serbian forces against other ethnic groups in the Balkans, and it certainly wasn’t the last: Over the next seven years, Serb nationalists led by dictator Slobodan Milosevic would wreak havoc across the Balkan region.But burning the library and its contents was the act that drew András Riedlmayer into the Balkan conflict. And almost 30 years later Riedlmayer, a bibliographer at Harvard’s Fine Arts Library, knows more about the destruction of that region’s cultural heritage than almost anyone. He has testified against its perpetrators in nine different international trials and helped set a precedent of prosecuting this kind of destruction as a war crime. “… if you really want to make a librarian mad, burn down a library.” — András Riedlmayer, bibliographerlast_img read more

Harper Institute allows professors, students to conduct cancer research, promote awareness

first_imgPhoto courtesy of Jess Hatfield The Harper Cancer Research Institute facilitates collaboration between students and faculty. The Harper Society is an organization affiliated with the institute that aims to engage students and promote cancer awareness.Siyuan Zhang, an associate professor for cancer research, began his lab in 2012, making him one of the first researchers at the institute. Zhang said his lab centers around the study of breast cancer, particularly its response to drug treatments and its spread to other organs of the body. “The problem with cancer in general is when some tumors metastasize, which means to disseminate to different parts of the body, … they become a new tumor in a different organ and then at that point the surgeon cannot remove them and it’s very difficult to treat,” Zhang said. The close proximity of the HCRI allows students to explore and gain experience in cancer research. This semester, Zhang has enlisted two postdoctoral students, five graduate students and a handful of undergraduates to assist him in his research.Zhang also teaches a course in the department of biological sciences at Notre Dame, allowing him to work with undergraduates both in the lab and in the classroom. Zhang describes his current position in academia as his dream job.“Through teaching the classes and interacting with the students, both graduate [and] undergraduate, you can literally see that what you do every day is really making a mark on their career trajectory and interests,” Zhang said. In an effort to connect more students with the HCRI, the Harper Society was founded. The society is a student-led club that seeks to promote cancer awareness and bridge the gap between professors in the field of cancer research and Notre Dame students. Junior Alex Thomas, president of the Harper Society, spoke to the club’s professional relationship with HCRI researchers. “This isn’t a direct goal of our club, but a lot of students are able to do research at Harper through the Harper Society,” Thomas said. “It’s not something that we directly advertise, but it’s a great way for students to get connected with the institute, and being in the society, they’re able to meet with different researchers at the institute and then be research assistants or apprentices for semesters.”Thomas hopes the society can continue to help students interested in research feel less anxiety when searching for opportunities.“Research is one thing students are always super intimidated to start, so we try to make that process a little bit easier and give people the courage to send an email to a principal investigator that they’ve never heard of because you never know what’s gonna happen,” Thomas said. Although a large aspect of the society is getting involved in cancer research, Thomas explained that the club is open to all regardless of academic interests. He said he would encourage any student looking for a community to join. “Most people know someone [who] is affected by cancer. So, along with raising awareness about the institute and the research component of it, … we also want to be a club where people are able to come together and unite in the fight against cancer,” Thomas said. Senior Jess Hatfield, vice president of the Harper Society, was inspired to join the club after he witnessed his godmother struggle with breast cancer. “I feel like everyone has their own story where cancer has been there,” Hatfield said. To promote cancer awareness, the Harper Society holds numerous events around campus. Hatfield said his favorite event the society has hosted so far was a research roundtable where cancer researchers shared their work with students. “We brought in five professors that had research labs, either in Harper or on campus, and we invited the society members to come and just talk with these professors and ask about their research,” Hatfield said. “We had about 40 students come and be engaged, which was really cool to see.”In addition to speakers from the cancer research field, the society hosted a talk with Paqui Kelly — a breast cancer survivor and wife of Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly. Thomas explained how Kelly’s story and influence aligns with the society’s overarching goals. “She shared a couple of stories with us about when she was a patient, and then also how she’s used that as motivation to help promote the Kelly Cares Foundation, … highlighting the positive aspect of how she’s been able to do a lot of cancer awareness,” Thomas said. This semester the club is tentatively planning to sponsor a variety of events including blood drives, a charity run, spiritual events, another research roundtable and an activity for students to participate in for cancer awareness day, Hatfield said. Thomas said he realized the importance of the club’s support system during a reflective event at the Grotto. “Last semester we had a ‘Light the Night’ spiritual event at the Grotto where everyone offered candles. Then, we let members offer up intentions, and it was really amazing to see,” Thomas said. “[We had] about six to 10 students speak up about family members and friends who had been affected by some sort of cancer, and they were able to offer up their intentions and they felt comfortable with doing that which was awesome.”Tags: Cancer research, harper cancer research, harper society At the corner of Angela Boulevard and Notre Dame Avenue lies a building unknown to many Notre Dame students: the Harper Cancer Research Institute (HCRI). Established in 2011 as a division of Notre Dame Research, the institute serves as a hub of collaboration between cancer researchers, professors and students. last_img read more

Get Schooled By the Cast of Sex Tips on Opening Night

first_imgForget diamonds—a gay man is a girl’s best friend! Jason Michael Snow, Lindsay Nicole Chambers and Andrew Brewer had cause for celebration on February 9, when the raunchy new comedy Sex Tips For a Straight Woman From a Gay Man officially opened off-Broadway. Based on the bestselling book of the same name, the onstage how-to guide by Matt Murphy welcomes audience members into a fun-filled world of foolproof moves, filter-free observations and insider advice from a gay man. After the show, the stars gathered for a sexy company photo. Check out this Hot Shot of the stars celebrating on the red carpet, then catch the show at 777 Theatre! Show Closed This production ended its run on June 23, 2018 Related Shows View Comments Sex Tips For Straight Women From a Gay Manlast_img read more