Cultural Heritage and the Denial of Genocide Law

  • Nanor Kebranian
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Genocide book series (PSHG)


In 1933, over a decade before inscribing the term ‘genocide’ in Axis Rule in Occupied Europe (1944) and ‘following a special invitation’ to a law conference in Madrid, Polish-Jewish attorney, Raphael Lemkin (1900–1959) proposed a set of offences he considered instrumental to defining ‘acts of extermination directed against [the] ethnic, religious or social collectivities whatever the motive (political, religious, etc.)’.2 The proposal attempted to revise an initiative presented a few years earlier at the Conference of Warsaw (1927) to criminalize what was then described as the ‘intentional use of any instrument capable of producing a public danger’.3 He suggested that ‘[p]ublic danger’ — which, he claimed, referred to ‘personally indeterminate individuals or an indeterminate quantity of the goods on a given territory’ — failed to capture the initiative’s intentions. Lemkin recommended, instead, the alternative wording, ‘interstate danger’4 [danger interétat] to emphasize the threat posed to ‘the interests of several States and their inhabitants’.5


Civil Society Cultural Heritage Cultural Property Rome Statute Genocide Convention 
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  1. 2.
    R. Lemkin (2000) Acts Constituting a General (Transnational) Danger Considered as Offences Against the Law of Nations (trans. J. T. Fussell), [in the original the italicized text was in bold typeface].Google Scholar
  2. 9.
    D. Kazanjian (2011) ‘Re-flexion: Genocide in Ruins’, Discourse, Vol. 33 (3): 367–89 (369) Kazanjian’s article provides an important critique of Lemkin’s distinction between civilization and barbarity, and his complete failure to account for Euro-American crimes against indigenous populations.Google Scholar
  3. 11.
    B. Sautman (2003) ‘“Cultural genocide” and Tibet’, International Law Journal, Vol. 38 (2): 181–7;Google Scholar
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    T. Akçam (2014) ‘The Spirit of the Law: Following the Traces of Genocide in the Law of Abandoned Property’, International Criminal Law Review, Vol. 14 (2): 379. [emphasis added].CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Kouymjian (1998), p. 4. For a comprehensive discussion of the Armenian Church’s treatment during the Genocide, see S. Payaslian (2006) ‘The Destruction of the Armenian Church during the Genocide’, Genocide Studies and Prevention, Vol. 1 (2): 149–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    H. Watenpaugh (2014) ‘Preserving the Medieval City of Ani: Cultural Heritage between Contest and Reconciliation’, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 73 (4): 528–9. On a discussion of AKP’s political acts calculated on such immediate interests, see Chapter 13, Erbal.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Such material is too numerous to list. For a preliminary discussion on these ‘pilgrimages’, see Z. T. Hoffman (2014) ‘Diaspora Tours and Place Attachment: A Unique Configuration of Emotion and Location’, in H. Jones and E. Jackson (eds) Stories of Cosmopolitan Belonging: Emotion and Location ( London and New York: Routledge ), pp. 141–56.Google Scholar
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    J. P. Fishman (2010) ‘Locating the International Interest in Intranational Cultural Property Disputes’, Yale Journal of International Law, Vol. 35 (2): 347–404 (353)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Nanor Kebranian 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nanor Kebranian
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African StudiesColumbia UniversityUSA

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