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Deploying destruction: Islamic State, international actors, and public opinion in Mosul
journal contributionposted on 2024-01-09, 00:49 authored by Lynn Meskell, Benjamin IsakhanBenjamin Isakhan
Destruction of cultural heritage has increasingly taken center stage in global debates concerning conflict, crimes against humanity, and cultural genocide. From NATO to the UNSC, international bodies and their respective experts are reconsidering how to understand and combat targeted damage in an emerging terrain, where heritage destruction is being leveraged as a weapon of war. Relatedly, those same organizations, alongside government and non-governmental agencies, seek to rebuild historic sites as a means of (post-)conflict recovery, seamlessly tethering material and social renewal. Here we focus on the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in the aftermath of devastation wrought by Islamic State. We present findings from a survey of 1600 residents, revealing local attitudes toward the destruction of sites coupled with the international agencies and preservation programs seeking to manage heritage within the city. While Iraqis generally support heritage initiatives, we demonstrate how they prioritize broader rehabilitation efforts that foreground security and humanitarian aid. These results have implications for current and future projects in Iraq and beyond.