Protecting Iraq’s cultural heritage from predation

Short video explainer about how, since 2003, Iraq’s elites have appropriated the country’s rich cultural heritage in the service of various undesirable agendas.

Explainer Video
Published 28 March 2022 3 minute watch

Negative impacts of Iraq's cultural heritage predation

— Short video explainer about how, since 2003, Iraq’s elites have appropriated the country’s rich cultural heritage in the service of various undesirable agendas.

These agendas range from commercialization to the propagation of sectarian and exclusionary political or religious narratives.

Heritage is different to history in that it involves a sense of ownership and emotional attachment, and a major factor behind these developments has been the political power-sharing system of ‘muhasasa’, which is premised on the division of key state roles along sectarian lines.

Under this system, income and other resources derived from cultural heritage increasingly accrue not to the Iraqi state but to subnational institutions which actively promote ethno-nationalism, sectarianism and religious objectives.

In this video, the authors of a recent research paper explain the negative impact of heritage predation on Iraqi society. The research makes recommendations for both Iraqi and international institutions to counter the damaging effects of muhasasa and the sectarian allocation of cultural resources.