Madison  Leeson
Joined WSI in August 2022
Madison Leeson

I was born outside of Toronto, Canada, where I became deeply interested in the democratizing power of art and culture. I received my BFA in Criticism & Curatorial Practice from OCAD University, writing about the ways in which failure and success impact social development and our perceptions of ourselves.

I moved to Athens, Greece, in 2017 to pursue my Masters in Heritage Management. My work began to focus on museums and cultural institutions at the intersection of humanitarian issues, particularly the status of refugees and the impact of the economic downturn. I was also exposed to the illicit trade in antiquities and became interested in the “resource curse” which often plagues resource-rich but economically poor countries in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

In 2019, I moved to Istanbul, Turkey, where I am currently based. My work began to take on a historical perspective, using archival research to trace developments in heritage management in the 20th century.

In June of this year, I graduated with my PhD in Archaeology and History of Art from Koç University. My doctoral dissertation considered local and state-level projects of heritage management in the Ottoman Empire and Iraq from the turn of the 20th century, focusing on how these campaigns articulated the ambitions of foreign, imperial powers as well as the goals of the rising Iraqi state.

My work also tackles developments in museum studies and the role of objects in the manifestation of power. I have consulted on antiquities protection policy and institutional strategies to prevent the illicit trade in antiquities, and have presented research at conferences in Canada, the United States, Vietnam, and Iraq.

I am currently researching the impact of UN and UNESCO campaigns in the Middle East, the long-term impact of decolonization, and the rising tide of populism that threatens the democratizing power of art and culture which originally attracted me to this kind of work.

Articles by Madison Leeson

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