SESSION 4 – Conflict, Politics and the Destruction of Cultural Heritage in the World Today

ORGANIZERS: Mehiyar Kathem & Giovanni Fontana Antonelli


The destruction of cultural heritage is one of the many outcomes of conflict and war. In other contexts, heritage can also be affected and commonly undermined and destroyed by political actors of different hues and configurations. Communities, however defined, and sections of society can be not only a target for erasure, but entire geographies, cities and towns the subject of devastating interventions. In this context, state as well as non-state actors engage in heritage destruction with a view to reshaping society and politics. This panel looks into dynamics pertaining to cultural heritage destruction by exploring political action oriented to transforming society. Case-studies from India, Iraq, Palestine, amongst other countries, will be analysed to understand that heritage destruction is being carried out by a large range of actors, many of which are ‘protected’ under the cover of being state or semi-state institutions. The panel will finally look at policy implications and what it means for cultural continuity, peace and coexistence.

Photo credit: Giovanni Fontana Antonelli