In the wake of the burning of three Black churches, the burning of a mosque, and the fire at Notre Dame, there is a question that consumes us all: what makes a place worth protecting? Often, the dominant narrative decides that most of the global majority does not have a story worth telling, which makes the question of preservation quite contentious. Preservation matters, though, because the story of what is sacred to society is told through that which receives the most care. For example, one of the reasons that the Confederacy story continues to be told is that people erected countless statues and crafted state flags in honor of the narrative of “states’ rights.” Consequently, the United States is still struggling to identify what it truly stands for while wrestling with that historical saturation.
To craft an honest view of history, there needs to be multiple perspectives not just available to the literate population, but to those who vehemently disagree. For eons, there has been little public dialogue between narratives to which people are exposed, but we are lucky enough to live in a cultural renaissance where more marginalized people are demanding to be heard. When multiple levels of government work to constrain those voices, we rely on cities to protect what is sacred and unique for future generations to observe.
Join Decipher City in a conversation with Nate Stevens, the Executive Producer of the podcast for UNESCO’s Crossings Institute based at the University of Oregon.
Header Image: The UnESCO site Qal ‘at al-Bahrain (Bahrain). Photo by Martin Falbisoner
4. A discussion of burning churches–and for whom the matter.