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A Future in Ruins


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About the Author

Lynn Meskell is Professor, Department of Anthropology, Stanford University and author of Global Heritage: A Reader (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015), The Nature of Heritage: The New South Africa (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), Cosmopolitan Archaeologies (Duke University Press, 2009), and Private Life in New Kingdom Egypt (PUP, 2002).


This is a highly original and timely reassessment of UNESCO's checkered global mission since the late 1940s. While Meskell's book is ostensibly about UNESCO, world heritage, and the changing practices of archaeology, it is also a powerful rereading of international history and the broader politics of preservation in today's world. For those interested in the history of internationalism, contemporary global politics, and heritage studies, this is a must read. * Paul Betts, University of Oxford *
A Future in Ruins represents the first in-depth analysis of UNESCO from its heady beginnings in a postwar world to the very different political and cultural attitudes to heritage in the present. Meskell brings her considerable analytical skills to bear on the personalities and structures of the organization and the material remains on which they focused. This is a book for anyone concerned with the past and present of global heritage. * Chris Gosden, University of Oxford *
This timely book's insight and subtlety will set the diplomatic world by its ears. Meskell shows how UNESCO's pious pose of cultural universalism masks nationalistic - and Eurocentric - pursuits. Her argument steadily moves us toward the unexpected revelation that UNESCO's interventions, understood by the world's disenfranchised as redolent of Western arrogance, increase the threat to the cultural treasures they are supposed to protect. * Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University *

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