Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Art & War

This Wall Street Journal article, Syria’s ‘Blood Diamond’, examines the religious, political, and financial aspects of antiquity trafficking in relation to funding Syria’s civil war as well as the rise of ISIS—a terrorist organization most recently making worldwide headlines for the murder for two journalists. Some of the destruction of ancient antiquities can be explained by the religious unrest, but the international black market for cultural objects—from Roman mosaics to ancient jewelry—is fueling a civil war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and made refugees of hundreds of thousands more. When considering the framework for an organization this week, I found it interested to apply the questions we’ve discussed several times in class to ISIS, or the rebels, or any other terrorist organization profiting from the trafficking. What is their purpose? What is the context are they doing it in? What is their cost to acquire these antiquities? What is their cost to operate? At open forum about cultural heritage and public diplomacy earlier this summer, it was made clear that this type of antiquity trafficking is difficult to combat when there is human trafficking and civil war and many other tragedies worth fighting. However, in my opinion, this article illustrates the power of culture, heritage, and organizations—good or evil.


3 comments on “Art & War

  1. Jenni
    September 11, 2014

    I think this relates really well to our last class, because it shows the profitability and strength of the “criminal sector.” Groups, like ISIS, living outside the lines of the other 3 sectors (public, private, nonprofit) are not restricted by laws or beholden to any institution and can impose their will on others. They are also not restricted in their use of profits to perpetuate their goals. It really is quite unnerving.

    As Emily alluded, this article really does do a good job of illustrating the power organizations can wield when they are united under a common goal and a common purpose.

    • gormleykimberly
      September 15, 2014

      I can’t help thinking where the “monument men” are here. With a cultural heritage that predates the European history by centuries, it is disconcerting that there has been little global talk about preserving Syria’s national treasures. The article mentions the taxes looters must pay to ISIL, which makes me sick. If this is so commonplace that a tax structure is in place, its is inexcusable to NOT have a means of controlling and countering the issue as part of any international effort. Barak might need to flesh his plans from last week out a little bit. A robust cultural heritage is indispensable in fostering a sense of community pride, and a tourist economy, all of which will need to be rebuilt if there’s any hope of long term stability.

  2. gaochang619
    September 12, 2014

    It is interesting but confusing to look into the antiquity trafficking especially in the religious or politic context because nobody(at least in our class, I think) has been involved in this kind of issues and get some “experience”.

    This article reminds me of the Heritage Police System in Italy against the “criminal sector” as Jenni mentioned, and it leads the best enforcement of antiquities laws of any country. But when it comes to the considerable damage of Syria’s cultural heritage, it is an arduous task to find a stream of power against the destruction because the strong interaction among antiquity trafficking and politic parties and the terrorists.

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This entry was posted on September 10, 2014 by .
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