Since the invasion of 2003, Iraq has suffered an extraordinary era of both heritage destruction and devastating spikes in violence. While cases such as the 2003 attacks on the Iraq National Museum and the Iraq National Library and Archive, as well as the systematic looting of Iraq’s sensitive archaeological sites, understandably caused outrage among scholars of heritage studies across the world, little attention has been paid to the destruction of Iraq’s many significant Islamic sites – particularly during the ethno-religious sectarian violence that raged across the nation in 2006-7. This paper presents the first results of a three year project funded by the Australian Research Council which aims to empirically test the assumption that a significant relationship exists between this spike in violence and the targeting of sites of Islamic heritage (mosques, shrines, etc.). To do this, the paper will compare and contrast the information in the world’s first database of heritage destruction (created by the author) and existing measures of violence in Iraq (such as the Iraq Body Count database). This will set the precedent for studies of both heritage and violence and enable policy formation towards the minimization of heritage destruction and spikes in violence during times of conflict.
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