July 3, 2018

NSF Cultural Violence and Civilian Deaths

Spatial-temporal analysis of social disintegration

Photo: Two destroyed tanks in front of a mosque in Azaz, Syria. August 2012. Wikimedia Commons, C. Triebert

Why do armed groups deliberately destroy cultural monuments? How does monument destruction correlate with patterns of direct violence against civilians? To answer these questions, we use time-space analytical techniques on a new dataset of incidents from the Syrian civil war. We welcome inquiries and ideas from researchers and practitioners interested in peace and conflict studies, cultural and political theory, critical cultural heritage studies, and post-war community rebuilding.

For more information about the project: NSF Grant #1948947


Principal Investigator Fiona Rose Greenland is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Virginia. Contact: fargreenland @ virginia (dot) edu

Georeferencing Specialists Therése Pettersson and Nanar Hawach, at the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, are providing full georeferencing analysis for our study sites.

Michelle Fabiani is Assistant Professor in the Criminal Justice Department at the University of New Haven. She is collaborating on the spatial-temporal operations and analysis. Contact: mfabiani @ newhaven (dot) edu

Pilot Phase

In 2017-18, the Quantitative Collaborative at the University of Virginia generously supported our pilot study.

We focused on all known incidents in which sites of religious or cultural significance in the city of Aleppo were heavily damaged or destroyed in 2015-2016. We used publicly available information from eyewitness report databases, satellite imagery, and GIS mapping software. The goal of this phase of work was to establish clear and reliable descriptive statistics that can, in a subsequent phase of research, support analysis of possible statistical relationships between cultural violence and civilian deaths. UVA students Grant Tabler and Sinta Taylor served as Undergraduate Research Assistants.