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Digitally mediated iconoclasm: the Islamic State and the war on cultural heritage
journal contributionposted on 01.01.2018, 00:00 authored by J A González Zarandona, C Albarrán-Torres, Benjamin IsakhanBenjamin Isakhan
This paper puts forward the new analytical framework of ‘Digitally Mediated Iconoclasm’ (DMI) to analyse and interpret iconoclastic acts that are experienced through the propaganda (videos, social media, photographs, and other media) that the actor perpetrating the destruction makes available in global information networks for its consumption, duplication, and distribution. DMI captures three stages of the destruction (before, during and after the event) as both evidence of that destruction and as a perdurable digital archive. To demonstrate the relevance of DMI, we focus on an analysis of the videos and photographs depicting heritage destruction at pre-monotheistic sites targeted by the Islamic State (IS), such as Palmyra in Syria, the Mosul Cultural Museum, Nineveh and Nimrud in Iraq. The analysis focuses on the three stages that DMI comprises, showing the different photographic and audio-visual production techniques that the IS uses to enhance the tension that is built up leading to the destruction of cultural heritage while allocating material and human resources to produce digital propaganda. This analysis demonstrates how the analytical framework of DMI can be used to advance important work in heritage and media studies.