Archaeological resources have been used by political regimes to further their own interests across time and space for many decades since the discipline was established as a profession in the late 19th century. Regime-backed 20th century dictators like Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein, Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak understood that whoever controls a nation’s archeological resources controls the nation’s memory. By controlling collective memory, a regime can assert control over its people. Archeological resources can be used to validate a regime’s control over physical space as well. Educating a population about its archeological past can help solidify the legitimacy of a political entity. However, power changes hands, and archaeological resources are not immune to the shifting of power, be it through external conflict, such as an invasion, or internal conflict, such as a revolution. While destruction of sites by military action is obviously destructive, as when overly zealous soldiers fire weapons into or bomb cultural sites intentionally. Archaeological resources are also impacted by changing political agendas. In situations where the ruling party is overthrown and a power vacuum forms, destructive activities such as looting and land development are expanded. This article examines how Iraq’s archeological resources were co-opted and politicized by Saddam Hussein Ba’athist government and how different political, societal, and academic forces interacted with these archaeological resources after the fall of the Ba’athists.
"Nationalist Theory and Politicization of Archaeological Resources: Manifestations in Iraq,"
Field Notes: A Journal of Collegiate Anthropology: Vol. 12, Article 1.
Available at: https://dc.uwm.edu/fieldnotes/vol12/iss1/1
Arabic Studies Commons, Archaeological Anthropology Commons, Asian History Commons, Islamic World and Near East History Commons, Military History Commons, Other Anthropology Commons, Political History Commons, Social and Cultural Anthropology Commons, Social History Commons