New Research in Heritage Crime and Violence

Three new publications on heritage crime and violence (scroll to bottom for all keywords):

Johan Brosché, Mattias Legnér, Joakim Kreutz & Akram Ijla (2016): Heritage Under Attack: Motives for Targeting Cultural Property During Armed Conflict, International Journal of Heritage Studies, doi:10.1080/13527258.2016.1261918
See also:–et-al–2016–heritage-under-attack-motives-for-targeting-cultural-property-during-armed-conflict.pdf

Abstract:  Although attacks on cultural property have caused international outcry, our understanding of this phenomenon is still limited. In particular, little research has been directed towards exploring the motivations for such attacks. Therefore, we ask: What are the motives for attacking sites, buildings or objects representing cultural heritage? By combining insights from peace and conflict research with findings from heritage studies we present a typology of motivations for attacking cultural property. We identify four, not mutually exclusive, broad groups of motives: (i) attacks related to conflict goals, in which cultural property is targeted because it is connected to the issue the warring parties are fighting over (ii), military-strategic attacks, in which the main motivation is to win tactical advantages in the conflict (iii), signalling attacks, in which cultural property is targeted as a low-risk target that signals the commitment of the aggressor, and (iv) economic incentives where cultural property provides funding for warring parties. Our typology offers a theoretical structure for research about why, when, and by whom, cultural property is targeted. This is not only likely to provide academic benefits, but also to contribute to the development of more effective tools for the protection of cultural property during armed conflict.
Keywords: Cultural heritage, cultural property, attacks, motives, armed conflict

Harold Kalman (2017): Destruction, Mitigation, and Reconciliation of Cultural Heritage, International Journal of Heritage Studies,

Abstract:  Attacks on built cultural heritage often occur during times of armed conflict. Many such acts are not collateral damage, but rather are deliberate and ideologically driven assaults intended to eradicate the adversary’s identity and collective memory. They represent ‘urbicide’ and ‘identicide’. The victims typically attempt to mitigate the loss, frequently by reconstructing the lost historic place and thereby restoring tangible evidence of their identity. Reconstruction, however, is itself an ideological act and a destructive activity, since it erases memories of the violence and removes physical evidence. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has commemorated several cultural heritage sites that have been destroyed and subsequently reconstructed, by inscribing them on the World Heritage List. Although this ensures the perpetuation of their memory, it may distort the original purpose of the list as a celebration of ‘outstanding universal value’. Beyond commemoration, a desired outcome is reconciliation. True reconciliation requires the release of anger and pain, so that memories of the violence may be retained without a desire for retribution. This article looks at a selection of acts intended at destroying cultural heritage, including some that did not occur during war, and examines means and motives for achieving mitigation and reconciliation.
Keywords: Identicide, urbicide, destruction, reconstruction, mitigation, reconciliation, World Heritage List

Richard M. Hutchings & Marina La Salle (2017): Archaeology as State Heritage Crime, doi: 10.1007/s11759-017-9308-8
See also:

Abstract:  North American archaeology is evaluated in light of state and heritage crime theory. When analyzed with preexisting typologies, the practice is shown to meet the threshold for state-sanctioned heritage crime. This study also demonstrates how current models of heritage crime do not adequately account for (1) the pivotal role states and state-sanctioned heritage experts play in committing heritage crime and (2) the implications of heritage crime for living descendant communities, not just physical artifacts and buildings. Typically thought of as crime against the state, seeing a state heritage regime as organized heritage crime opens the door to a host of theoretical and practical possibilities, including legal remedies for affected communities. Despite these opportunities, major impediments to meaningful change exist.
Keywords: North American archaeology, cultural resource management, state crime, heritage crime, heritocide

All keywords+:


Armed conflict


Collateral damage

Cultural heritage

Cultural property

Cultural resource management

Descendant community






Heritage crime

Heritage regime








Organized heritage crime


Peace and conflict research



State crime

State-sanctioned heritage crime




World Heritage List