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Cultural Security: The Evolving Role of Art in International Security

Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 19, pp. 19–42, 2007

Posted: 5 Jul 2011 Last revised: 19 Jul 2011

Erik Nemeth

Cultural Security; RAND Corporation

Date Written: 2007

Abstract

By examining the historically progressive role of cultural property in terrorism and political violence, this paper reveals the evolving significance of art to international security. Over the past two centuries, abuse of antiquities and fine art has evolved from the spoils-of-war into a medium for conducting terrorism which strives to erase the cultural heritage of ‘the other’. In contrast to wartime destruction and plunder which date back millennia, the growth of the art market over the past fifty years has created opportunities for novel abuses of cultural property. Since World War II, maturing international awareness has recognized the threat which armed conflict and looting pose to cultural property, but in parallel, art trafficking and the politics of cultural property have become tools for transnational organized crime and terrorist groups. The resulting unique intersection of issues in art, politics and counterterrorism forms the basis for a new field - cultural security. After an assessment of topical security threats which suggest the need for such a field, the paper concludes by speculating on international-security risks precipitating from antiquities trafficking and collecting.

Keywords: antiquities trafficking, cultural property, ethnic cleansing, illicit markets, international security, terrorism

Suggested Citation

Nemeth, Erik, Cultural Security: The Evolving Role of Art in International Security (2007). Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 19, pp. 19–42, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1877465

Erik Nemeth (Contact Author)

Cultural Security ( email )

Santa Monica, CA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://culturalsecurity.net

RAND Corporation ( email )

1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.rand.org/about/people/n/nemeth_erik.html

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