Cultural property is often used for political ends. Saddam Hussein deliberately linked himself to ancient Assyrian kings to legitimise his reign, building a palace at the ancient site of Babylon, and inscribing his name on the ancient bricks. It can even act as a catalyst for conflict: Nelson’s Pillar in Dublin, Ireland, was deliberately bombed in 1966 because of its colonial associations. More positively, cultural property can become a tool to promote mutual recognition and reconciliation through a shared, accepted, memory of a common (or difficult) past. Following the difficulties the Spanish people experienced in reconciling their memories of a bitter civil war, the Spanish government declared 2006 a Year of Memory in an effort to reconcile the memories and the fallen from both sides of the conflict.

Photo: Monument to the fallen of the nationalist side in Spanish Civil War in Saint Jacques church, in Cangas, Pontevedra, Galicia. The graffiti reads “Fascist murders. Don’t forget Don’t forgive.” 2011. By Javierme, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

See one of the bricks stamped by Saddam Hussein in our Media Library

Read about the bombing of Nelsons Pillar on the Old Dublin Town website

Read about the Year of Memory in the Independent newspaper, or if you have Academic Library Access, read work by Dr Dacia Viejo-Rose