The Islamic State’s destruction of Yezidi heritage: responses, resilience and reconstruction after genocide
journal contributionposted on 2020-02-01, 00:00 authored by Benjamin IsakhanBenjamin Isakhan, Sofya Shahab
After conquering large swathes of northern Iraq, the Islamic State undertook an aggressive genocidal campaign against the Yezidi people in which they not only executed and enslaved thousands of innocent civilians, but also damaged or destroyed several key Yezidi temples and shrines. Drawing on a small sample of in-depth semi-structured interviews with Yezidi men and women from two regions conquered by the Islamic State, this article documents the effect this wave of persecution has had on these Yezidi individuals. It finds that the attacks by the Islamic State on Yezidis and their heritage sites have caused considerable suffering among the community, in part because of their inability to practise their intangible religious rituals and customs. However, the Yezidi people have also demonstrated remarkable resistance and resilience to the Islamic State genocide in terms of returning to their ancient homelands, reconstructing their heritage sites and the re-emergence of their intangible religious heritage practices. The article concludes by noting that the new insights gleaned from these interviews are a step towards better understanding the relationship between tangible and intangible heritage in the wake of conflict, genocide and mass heritage destruction.