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Cultural Heritage in Modern Conflicts: A Theoretical Analysis of Memory and Materiality in Babylon, Iraq

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Bortolan, Martina 


Performative, symbolic, and material aspects pervade remembrance. Cultural heritage becomes a source of individual and collective identity, a point of reference from which to conceptualise society and its functioning. Thus, its violent destruction has strong repercussions on the people that identify with it. Drawing from the case of the US occupation of Babylon, a site that lies at the core of Saddam Hussain’s nationalisation efforts, I explore the instrumentalisation of memory within conflictual contexts. I will analyse such instrumentalisation by considering heritage sites through the lens of materiality and object biographies. I then connect Babylon to the concept of iconicity, and how it can be leveraged to embed new narratives to existing sites. Finally, I highlight how heritage is an important field in which conflicts unfold, contributing to the negotiation of power relations between the actors involved.



Public Archaeology, Conflict, Iraq War, Cultural Heritage, Archaeology and Politics

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Archaeology and the Publics

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