Ian Buruma is a writer and lecturer focussing on Asian (esp. Japanese) culture. He is currently Henry R. Luce Professor of Democracy, Human Rights and Journalism at Bard College, New York.
The proposition underlying this year's Wolfson Lectures on 'War and Civilization' is that, as one century of wars seems all too likely to bleed into another, we have become accustomed to think of warfare simply as the destroyer of civilization, the ultimate evil. This understandable view evades the extent to which warfare over the centuries has contributed to civilizations it has subsequently damaged or destroyed. The lectures by Niall Ferguson, Geoffrey Hill, Marina Warner, and Ian Buruma will consider warfare's creative contribution to the development of the arts and society, not to downplay the horrors of war, but to consider whether conflict has also made a positive contribution to the balance-sheet of civilization.