CAFe Speaker Series: “Supporting Community-led Digitization of At-Risk Cultural Heritage in Iraq”

Event Start Date: Wednesday, December 6, 2023 - 4:00 pm

Event End Date: Wednesday, December 6, 2023 - 5:00 pm

Location: Virtual / Zoom

UMD students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends—join us for the CAFe Speaker Series!


From first-hand experience of an active case-study of digitizing at-risk libraries and heritage collections with communities in Iraq, Helena Arose and Peter Herdrich will discuss opportunities, challenges and best practices for establishing community-led digitization projects, as well as lessons learned about the wider benefits of digitization and cultural heritage protection in Iraq.


Helena Arose serves as the Director of Programs at the Antiquities Coalition. In this role, she closely collaborates with representatives from the U.S. and international governments, law enforcement agencies, international partners, academics, and other key stakeholder groups to develop and implement programs to fight the illicit trade in ancient art and antiquities.

Helena plays a critical role in advancing the AC’s mission by leading key research projects and publications, and also developing and managing popular online educational resources including interactive maps, timelines, and campaigns. She has organized and coordinated both in-person and virtual programs with world-renowned experts on topics pertaining to antiquities and cultural heritage. In addition, she helps edit and publish the Antiquities Coalition’s award-winning Think Tank Policy Brief series.

Helena conducts in-depth research on antiquities looting and trafficking, cultural heritage diplomacy and protection, and financial crimes and the art market. In addition, she has authored several publications for the AC and academic outlets. She also serves as an expert on topics related to cultural racketeering, speaking widely on these issues for academic, government, and general audiences.

Prior to this role, Helena served as Research Associate and Project Director at the AC. Before joining the organization, Helena worked as a Collections Specialist for the City of Raleigh Historic Resources and Museum Program, where she gained experience working in museums and collections.

Helena graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2018 with a MSc in Art History: Collecting and Provenance in an International Context. An archaeologist by training, she holds a BA in Archaeology from Johns Hopkins University, and has participated in archaeological excavations in Athienou, Cyprus, and in North Carolina.

Peter Herdrich is the Co-founder of the Antiquities Coalition (AC), where he directs strategic digital cultural heritage projects. He currently works with religious minority communities in Iraq on digitization of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, digital infrastructure, and education. His partners include his project Co-director Helena Arose of the Antiquities Coalition, Britney Bibeault, the AC’s first Digital Cultural Heritage Fellow and University of Maryland College of Information PhD student, and the University of Maryland College of Information Assistant Professor Victoria Van Hyning. Their work is funded by the Unites States Agency for International Development.

Herdrich also directs projects with the Algerian Ministry of Culture and Arts. These include an on-going three-year project with the AC, the Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation, and the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) on digital infrastructure and anti-looting efforts. Also, with the CLIR team, he built the first functional digital library in Iraq at the Kurdish Heritage Institute in Sulaymaniyah, conducted an emergency digitization and documentation project at the National Museum in Aden, Yemen, and initiated the Digital Library of the Middle East project with Dr. Charles Henry. He sincerely thanks all the generous funders, supporters, and partners who have made this work possible.

As the Chief Executive Officer of the Cultural Capital Group, he consults with clients across the cultural heritage, communications, and library sectors. He formerly served as CEO of the Archaeological Institute of America and publisher of Archeology magazine and is a graduate of Columbia University.


Additional Information:

Please contact at least one week prior to the event to request disability accommodations. In all situations, a good faith effort (up until the time of the event) will be made to provide accommodations.


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