J. Paul Getty Trust Occasional Papers in Cultural Heritage Policy

Number 2


Cultural Genocide and the Protection of Cultural Heritage

Edward C. Luck

In 2016, in response to recent attacks on cultural heritage sites in Syria, Iraq, and Timbuktu, the J. Paul Getty Trust convened a meeting at the British Academy in London to discuss the need for an international framework to protect cultural heritage in zones of armed conflict. To further explore these questions, the Trust subsequently launched the J. Paul Getty Trust Occasional Papers in Cultural Heritage Policy.

In this second issue, Edward C. Luck, the Arnold A. Saltzman Professor of Professional Practice and Director of the Specialization in International Conflict Resolution in Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), explores the importance of terminology, framing, and context when developing an international policy for protecting cultural heritage. Luck outlines the five conceptual frameworks most commonly used when defining this type of policy—legal, accountability, security, counterterrorism, and atrocity prevention. He then introduces cultural genocide as an additional lens through which to examine the destruction of cultural heritage. Raising difficult questions about whether cultural destruction and the loss of human life can be addressed together, Luck traces the history of this term and the possibilities, and potential pitfalls, in its application to policy debates. “Cultural Genocide and the Protection of Cultural Heritage” challenges readers to consider the substantial political impact that terminology and framing can have when discussing cultural heritage protection.