- Post-Colonial Ruins: Archaeologies of Political Violence and IS
- Anthropology Today
- Volume | Issue number
- 31 | 6
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Heritage and Memory Studies (AHM)
Amsterdam School for Regional, Transnational and European Studies (ARTES)
The carefully staged and hyper-mediated destructions at a number of world-famous archaeological sites in the area controlled by the Islamic State across Syria and Iraq have often made the headlines in recent months; and these spectacles can be counted among IS' visual markers of identity. In the mainstream media, they have largely been interpreted either as ‘cultural cleansing’ or as an expression of IS' inhumanity, of its barbaric iconoclasm and its criminal fight against idolatry. In this paper, I propose to interpret them as overdetermined acts or rather spectacles of destruction that must be situated within a specific political genealogy. I highlight the long-standing, deep entanglement between archaeology and (empire and) state building in the Levant.
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