Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
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.