I'm a social and political philosopher. I work on cultural heritage, human rights, international criminal law and where the three intersect.Get in Touch
I am finishing up a PhD thesis at the St Andrews and Stirling Joint Programme in Philosophy in which I provide a conceptual framework for treating obligations to preserve cultural heritage as human rights. The project is motivated by a practical concern. In recent years, global institutions like the UN and UNESCO have increasingly treated obligations to preserve cultural heritage as obligations to uphold human rights. Owing to the relative novelty of this approach, little work has been done to see what exactly such rights would be and how this treatment of cultural heritage could be justified. I am also independently interested in what cultural heritage is in the first place and how we should understand its value.
I focus on ways in which cultural heritage destruction could plausibly be prosecuted as a violation of international criminal law. I am particularly interested in the question of whether and under what circumstances could cultural heritage destruction be prosecuted as a genocidal act.
My work on this topic concerns collective memory and its importance to individual agency and the collective agency of political communities. There is extensive empirical work in psychology and memory studies on the influence of cultural background on individual decision making. Additionally, there is some work in philosophy on the relevance of autobiographical memory to our individual agency (John Christman, Marina Oshana), but there is very little done in contemporary analytic philosophy on the connection between collective memory and individual agency. Philosophers writing on such matters frequently note that our autobiographical memory is influenced by larger social structures, but how precisely this is done is seldom explored in any great detail. The combined insights of these two literatures suggest that collective memory makes meaningful contributions to individual and collective agency via autobiographical memory and other mechanisms. This in turn raises important questions about the ethics of collective memory.
I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to teach a variety of undergraduate classes over the last several years, both as a teaching assistant and as an independent instructor. Here’s a list of them.