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Collapse and Rebirth of Cultural Heritage

The Case of Syria and Iraq


Edited By Lorenzo Kamel

Cultural heritage and illicit trafficking in the Middle East are two key topics of our time.  The  book  sheds  light  on  both  aspects,  and  identifies  the  need  to  democratize  cultural heritage, by giving greater control to local communities. It also investigates the link between local hotbeds of conflict and violence in countries such as Syria and Iraq,  as  well  as  war  economics,  transnational  criminal  networks  and  the  politics  of  deliberate destruction and theft of cultural heritage. Finally, the chapters analyze the impact  of  non-violent  and  violent  non-state  actors,  fragile  states,  forced  migration,  environmental  degradation,  as  well  as  how  local  and  international  institutions  have  reacted to the dramatic events which the region and its inhabitants have experienced in recent years
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Introduction (Lorenzo Kamel)


Lorenzo Kamel


On 17 October 2019, the Rectorate Hall of the University Turin hosted a New-Med conference entitled ‘Cultural Heritage and Illicit Trafficking in a Fragmented Middle East’. The meeting, organized jointly by the University of Turin’s Department of Historical Studies and the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), relied upon the cooperation and support of the Compagnia di San Paolo, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the German Marshall Fund (GMF) of the United States and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Some twenty-four international renowned scholars, head of museums, practitioners, and policy makers from eleven countries gathered to analyze the dramatic events that have affected cultural heritage in Middle Eastern countries in recent years. Speakers also focused on the human dimension of this tragedy and shed light on projects seeking to renew cultural heritage in the region, including museums, archaeological excavations and the restoration of damaged monuments.

This edited volume builds on some of the results of that successful conference and aims primarily to raise awareness of cultural heritage, with particular focus on the Iraqi and Syrian contexts.

To this end, Chapter 1, by Elijah J. Magnier, Al-Rai chief correspondent and veteran war correspondent, provides the regional background and sheds light on the main roots of the process of destabilization that has affected several countries of the Middle East in recent years. The author, who has worked in war zones in the region...

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