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Join us for an evening with contemporary adventurer Rory Stewart.

With a rich, complex cultural and social history, Afghanistan has seen invasions and interventions by foreign powers over the centuries, with conflict continuing today. In this online talk, Stewart, an explorer, former diplomat, Conservative Party leadership candidate, bestselling writer and now a Senior Fellow at Yale, will discuss his personal experiences walking across Afghanistan in 2002 and visiting its ancient sites.

Exploring a time before his political career, Stewart will discuss how his explorations resulted in an immersion into a rich and complex culture closed to the world by decades of conflict. He will relay his experiences of the country’s archaeological sites, and the generosity of the people who helped him navigate the extreme conditions and changing political landscape.

This event complements our current exhibition, The Romance of Ruins: The Search for Ancient Ionia, which focuses on a 1764 expedition to ancient Greek sites in Anatolia, and will explore the parallels between exploring distant lands then and now.

About Rory Stewart

Rory Stewart is a Senior Fellow at the Jackson Institute, Yale University. Stewart focuses on contemporary politics in crisis and on international development and intervention in fragile and conflict-affected states.

Stewart was the UK Secretary of State for International Development where he doubled the U.K.’s investment in international climate and environment. Prior to that Stewart served in a variety of roles including Minister of the environment, Minister of State responsible for development policy in the Middle East and Asia and UK policy in Africa, as Minister of State for Justice, and as Chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee. Earlier in his career, he served briefly as an infantry officer and then as a diplomat for the UK government in Indonesia, the Balkans and Iraq. He founded and ran the Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Afghanistan and was the Director of the Carr Centre and the Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Stewart has also written four books: The Places in Between, Occupational Hazards or The Prince of the Marshes, Can Intervention Work?; and The Marches.


Photo by Sigit Setiyo Pramono


01 Jun 2021



Online talk


The Romance of Ruins The Search for Ancient Ionia, 1764

Discover a series of powerful and poetic watercolours made on an expedition to discover the ruins of ancient Ionia (modern Turkey) in 1764.

The Lure of Ruins: Susan Stewart in conversation with Bruce Boucher

Join Susan Stewart of Princeton University and Bruce Boucher, Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum to explore the enduring appeal of ruins in Western thought in this free online talk.