Yates to speak about sacred art security in Nepal, University of Cambridge, 15 Feb

12 Feb 2017

2015.07.10 Nepal Kathmadu 80 Kathesimbhu Stupa

As part of the Cambridge History of Art Research Seminar series.

Donna’s talk is entitled: Sacred Security: Threat, Vulnerability, and the Protection of Sacred Art in Nepal

More information about the talk and the series is available here: http://www.hoart.cam.ac.uk/seminars/joint-staff-research-seminars

The seminar will be from 5pm, Lecture Room 2, Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge


The challenges faced by South Asian countries tasked with protecting sacred art and architecture are a study in contrasting stakeholder needs with little room for compromise. Sacred sites must be both accessible to devotees and inaccessible to thieves. Sacred objects must be both documented and photographed and prevented from being documented and photographed due to religious restrictions. Sacred art must be both retained by the state and by heritage authorities and must serve the public in the face of both poverty and foreign market demand.

Thus, when it comes to the protection of sacred art in Nepal, we have a conflict between access and security stemming from the various values systems that regard sacred art as important. Lawmakers, communities and heritage professionals, then, are forced to make nearly impossible choices about which set of values they give primacy. Yet it is the middle space between these contrasting values that protection law and practice are built, and the results are rarely effective in the best of times. In this talk, Dr Donna Yates will discuss the realities of the protection of sacred art in contemporary Nepal, against the backdrop of natural disaster, social upheaval, and political change.