Cultural Heritage and Mass Atrocities

Intentional destruction of cultural heritage has a long history. Contemporary examples include the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan, mosques in Xinjiang, China, mausoleums in Timbuktu, Mali, and Greco-Roman remains in Syria. Cultural heritage destruction invariably accompanies assaults on civilians, making heritage attacks impossible to disentangle from the mass atrocities of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. Both seek to eliminate people and the heritage with which they identify.

Cultural Heritage and Mass Atrocities assembles thirty-eight experts from the heritage, social science, humanitarian, legal, and military communities. Focusing on immovable cultural heritage vulnerable to attack, the volume’s guiding framework is the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), a United Nations resolution adopted unanimously in 2005 to permit international intervention against crimes of war or genocide. Based on the three pillars of prevent, react, and rebuild, R2P offers today’s policymakers a set of existing laws and international norms that can and—as this book argues—must be extended to the protection of cultural heritage. Essays consider the global value of cultural heritage and document recent attacks on people and sites in China, Guatemala, Iraq, Mali, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen. Comprehensive sections on vulnerable populations as well as the role of international law and the military offer readers critical insights and point toward research, policy, and action agendas to protect both people and cultural heritage. The table of contents along with a concise abstract of each chapter is offered online in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish to facilitate robust, global dissemination of the strategies and tactics offered in this pathbreaking call to action.

Chapter Outline

Foreword — Irina Bokova


Preface and Acknowledgments — James Cuno and Thomas G. Weiss


Introduction — James Cuno and Thomas G. Weiss


Part 1. Cultural Heritage and Values


Introduction: Part 1

James Cuno and Thomas G. Weiss

1. Who Are We? Identity and Cultural Heritage Kwame Anthony Appiah

2. Why Do We Value Cultural Heritage? Neil MacGregor

3. Cultural Heritage under Attack: Learning from History Hermann Parzinger

4. The Cultural Heritage of Late Antiquity Glen W. Bowersock

5. The Written Heritage of the Muslim World Sabine Schmidtke

6. Valuing the Legacy of Our Cultural Heritage Ismail Serageldin


Part 2. Cultural Heritage under Siege: Recent Cases


Introduction: Part 2 James Cuno and Thomas G. Weiss

7. Uyghur Heritage under China’s “Antireligious Extremism” Campaigns Rachel Harris

8. When Peace Is Defeat, Reconstruction Is Damage: “Rebuilding” Heritage in Post-conflict Sri Lanka and Afghanistan Kavita Singh

9. Performative Destruction: Da’esh (ISIS) Ideology and the War on Heritage in Iraq Gil J. Stein

10. The Destruction of Aleppo: The Impact of the Syrian War on a World Heritage City Francesco Bandarin

11. The Lost Heritage of Homs: From the Destruction of Monuments to the Destruction of Meaning Marwa al-Sabouni

12. Reconstruction, Who Decides? Frederick Deknatel

13. Yemen’s Manuscript Culture under Attack Sabine Schmidtke

14. Cultural Heritage at Risk in Mali: The Destruction of Timbuktu’s Mausoleums of Saints Lazare Eloundou Assomo

15. Indigenous Threatened Heritage in Guatemala Victor Montejo


Part 3. Cultural Heritage and Populations at Risk


Introduction: Part 3 James Cuno and Thomas G. Weiss

16. Cultural Cleansing and Mass Atrocities Simon Adams

17. Choosing between Human Life and Cultural Heritage in War Hugo Slim

18. Saving Stones and Saving Lives: A Humanitarian Perspective on Protecting Cultural Heritage in War Paul H. Wise

19. Engaging Nonstate Armed Groups in the Protection of Cultural Heritage Jennifer M. Welsh

20. After the Dust Settles: Transitional Justice and Identity in the Aftermath of Cultural Destruction Philippe Sands and Ashrutha Rai


Part 4. Cultural Heritage and International Law


Introduction: Part 4 James Cuno and Thomas G. Weiss

21. Protecting Cultural Heritage: The Ties between People and Places Patty Gerstenblith

22. International Humanitarian Law and the Protection of Cultural Property Benjamin Charlier and Tural Mustafayev

23. International Human Rights Law and Cultural Heritage Marc-André Renold and Alessandro Chechi

24. Customs, General Principles, and the Intentional Destruction of Cultural Property Francesco Francioni

25. Prosecuting Heritage Destruction Joseph Powderly

26. Fighting Terrorist Attacks against World Heritage and Global Cultural Heritage Governance Sabine von Schorlemer


Part 5. Cultural Heritage and Military Perspectives


Introduction: Part 5 James Cuno and Thomas G. Weiss

27. Protecting Cultural Heritage on the Battlefield: The Hard Case of Religion Ron E. Hassner

28. From Kyoto to Baghdad to Tehran: Leadership, Law, and the Protection of Cultural Heritage Scott D. Sagan

29. Practicing the Art of War While Protecting Cultural Heritage: A Military Perspective

Ruth Margolies Beitler and Dexter W. Dugan

30. Peace Operations and the Protection of Cultural Heritage Richard Gowan

31. Protecting Cultural Property in Armed Conflict: The Necessity for Dialogue and Action Integrating the Heritage, Military, and Humanitarian Sectors Peter G. Stone

32. When Peace Breaks Out: The Peril and Promise of “Afterwar” Hugh Eakin


Conclusion: Toward Research, Policy, and Action Agendas James Cuno and Thomas G. Weiss

Source. Getty


Cuno, James and Weiss Thomas G. (Editors). Cultural Heritage and Mass Atrocities. Getty, 2022


 J. Paul Getty Trust

648 pages, 58 color and 12 b/w illustrations, 9 maps, 2 tables