The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

GC Events

10/6 – CLACLS Event: Book Launch: “The Return of Cultural Heritage to Latin America” (in-person event)

Join the CLACLS and the Political Science Program in celebrating the publication of “The Return of Cultural Heritage to Latin America” by Pierre Losson

This event is free and open to the public

October 6


Skylight Room (9th floor)

All attendees must register in advance and follow CUNY COVID-19 protocols. RSVP here

About the Book
The Return of Cultural Heritage to Latin America takes a new approach to the question of returns and restitutions of cultural heritage artefacts to their country of origin. It is the first publication to look at the domestic politics of claiming countries in order to understand who supports the claims and why.

The book looks at recent case studies that have made headlines in the media: Colombia’s claims for the “Quimbaya Treasure” and funerary statues from San Agustín; Mexico’s attempts at recovering the famous “penacho de Moctezuma” and Teotihuacan murals; and Peru’s successful claims for the Machu Picchu collection held at Yale and Paracas textiles held in Sweden. The author analyses how return claims contribute to the strengthening of state-sponsored discourses on the nation; the policy formation process that leads to the formulation of return claims; and who the main actors of the claims are, including civil society individuals, experts, state authorities, and Indigenous communities. The book proposes explanations for why Latin American countries are interested in these artefacts held in Western museums and why these claims have come to light over the past three decades.

The Return of Cultural Heritage to Latin America argues that, far from remaining a subject of conversation among specialists, return claims – in Latin America and elsewhere – ought to be the object of public debate, allowing contemporary societies to address the legacy of colonialism.

About the author
Pierre Losson has worked in French cultural centers in Mexico City and Lima for ten years. His research focuses on cultural policy in Latin America and the restitution and returns of cultural heritage objects to their country of origin. He has published articles in journals such as International Journal of Cultural Policy, Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, International Journal of Heritage Studies, and Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, among others. He graduated in international relations from the Institut d’Études Politiques of Strasbourg, holds MAs in arts administration from the University of Lyon and Latin American and Caribbean Studies from Florida International University, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from The Graduate Center, CUNY. In fall 2020, he was a post-doctoral fellow at Columbia University’s Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America.

Mary Roldán is the Dorothy Epstein Professor of Latin American History at Hunter College and The Graduate Center, CUNY. Her publications include Blood and Fire: la Violencia in Antioquia, Colombia, winner of the 2003 Fundación Alejandro Ángel Escobar Prize in the Social Sciences, and Radio Sutatenza: una revolución cultural en el campo colombiano (Banco de la República, 2017). Her research interests and publications include the mid-century Colombian conflict known as la Violencia, the impact of drug trafficking on urban society and policy in Medellín, paramilitary organizations, grassroots peace initiatives, radio, and Catholic transnational mass media literacy and development projects during the Cold War. She has just finished a co-edited volume on the golden era of radio (1930s to the 1950s) in Latin America with Gisela Cramer of the National University of Colombia.

Erin Thompson is America’s only professor of art crime as Associate Professor of Fraud, Forensics, Art Law & Crime, Department of Art and Music at John Jay College, CUNY. She studies the black market for looted antiquities, art forgery, museum theft, the ethics of digital reproductions of cultural heritage, art made by detainees at Guantánamo Bay, among other topics. She is also a member of the Advisory Committee for the Nepal Heritage Recovery Campaign. Her latest book, Smashing Statues: The Rise and Fall of America’s Public Monuments (Norton, February 2022), traces the turbulent history and abundant ironies of our monuments. She has written and spoken about the science of public art, the history of protests, the legal barriers to removal of controversial art, and examples of innovative approaches to the problem in venues including Art in America, Hyperallergic, Smithsonian Magazine, bitch, and The New York Times. Her work was recently the subject of a New Yorker interview.

Susan L. Woodward is professor of political science at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. A specialist on the Balkans, her current research focuses on transitions from civil war to peace, international security and state failure, and post-war state-building. She was a member of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Public Administration, 2010-2014, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, 1990-1999, and then at the Centre for Defence Studies, King’s College, London, 1999-2000, head of the Analysis and Assessment Unit for UNPROFOR in 1994, and a professor of political science at Yale University, 1982-89, Williams College, 1978-82, and Northwestern University, 1972-1977. Her many writings include The Ideology of Failed States: Why Intervention Fails (Cambridge University Press, 2017), Balkan Tragedy: Chaos and Dissolution after the Cold War (Brookings Press, 1995), and Socialist Unemployment: The Political Economy of Yugoslavia, 1945-1990 (Princeton University Press, 1995).

COVID-19 and Building access:

Non-CUNY attendees will need to show ID, proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within seven days of the event.

CUNY affiliated attendees will need to show their Clear4 Pass.