This project aims to document Syrian and Iraqi opinion on the destruction and reconstruction of heritage sites following the devastation unleashed by the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) and other actors.

Since the Iraq war of 2003 and the Syrian civil war from 2011, the people of Syria and Iraq have witnessed a cataclysmic wave of both human suffering and heritage destruction. Most notoriously, after the militant jihadist network known as the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) seized large swathes of territory across both Syria and Iraq, they unleashed brutal genocidal pogroms against innocent civilians and devastated several key heritage sites such as Palmyra and the Mosul Museum.

In response to the heritage destruction perpetrated by groups such as the IS, a number of state institutions and global bodies have launched initiatives to protect and reconstruct the heritage of Syria and Iraq. While such efforts are undoubtedly well-intentioned, they often rely on problematic assumptions about how the people of Syria and Iraq value and engage with their heritage, how they perceive and interpret its destruction, and the value they place on its reconstruction.

Utilizing country-wide surveys and interviews, this project offers the most robust and nuanced study to date of Syrian and Iraqi public opinion on heritage and the extent to which it converges with, or diverges from, the attitudes and actions of key state and global actors.

This project is a unique partnership between the Alfred Deakin Institute at Deakin University, the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, the Arab Barometer at Princeton University and several local partners. It is funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project grant (DP200101468).

Header Image Credit: Levi Meir Clancy via Unsplash.