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Iconoclasm: Past & Present Issues

4 – 6 October 2021, Wrocław, Poland

Given the confusion still prevalent all over Europe concerning the COVID 19 pandemic, the frustrating slowness of the vaccination campaign in many countries and the uncertainties concerning international travel, the History & Archaeology Section, in agreement with the Academia Europaea authorities and with the Wrocław Hub staff, has decided to postpone, for second time in a row, the conference on « Iconoclasm », initially scheduled for October 2020 and now rescheduled for October 2021. This delay of one full year has, nonetheless, allowed us to assemble an exceptional panel of participant speakers. 

Background and rationale

Why is iconoclasm such a recurring phenomenon?

Since Ancient times, iconoclasm, the destruction of images or monum ents for religious or political reasons, has been a recurring phenomenon throughout the world. From Egypt to China or India; in the Christian, Muslim or Judaic traditions: iconoclasm has been the pretext for destruction, to erase unwanted objects of worship and, at the same time, to reassess the principles of conceptual belief.
But iconoclasm has also been the manifestation of a recurring damnatio memoriae, the ancient Roman practice of official obliteration of the memory of a specific individual or event.
The current negative trend of « political correctedness », political fracturing and manifestations such as ‘no platforming’, ‘historical re-interpretation and educational exclusions’, has given a new dimension to such a practice and an urgency in undertaking an in depth systematic and scholarly analysis of these issues in a modern post-colonial and post « authoritarian » European societal context.

Scope and development

This first conference, to be held in Wrocław (Poland) between October 5 and October 7, 2020, intends to analyse iconoclasm from a decidedly interdisciplinary perspective, with interventions from historians and archaeologists, as well as from specialists in art, literature, political science, classical studies, theology or philosophy. Our intention is to involve most – if not all – of the sections in Classes 1 and 2 of the Academia Europaea and YAE. The event, if successful, will be further developed into a major project theme of the AE and could contribute in defining the position of the Academia Europaea on the subject. The intention will be to widen the scope of analysis and broaden the interdisciplinary participants. The first outputs should also constitute a special ‘open access’ issue of the European Review. This will be a test event to gauge the potential scope for a future series. The subsequent series will – hopefully – be developed to include other AE Hubs, and especially the new Regional Knowledge Hub, launched recently by the AE at Tbilisi in Georgia. Their unique contexts, and issues deriving from the Caucasus region of Europe will be a valuable input. This event and the subsequent series will also then provide us with a means by which the AE can help with the process of capacity building and integration of the Caucasus academic community into our wider European scholarship family.

The event is open to all interested scholars, not limited to AE or YAE members and will be broadcasted online (more details here). All papers presented will be published in a special issue of the European Review. The programme of the conference is available here.

Nikita Harwich History & Archaeology Section Chair (2019-2022),



The event is sponsored by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.