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Iconoclasm: Religious and Political Motivations for Destroying Art

  • Sam Hardy
Chapter

Abstract

Iconoclasm has existed around the world for thousands of years. This chapter traces the etymology and genealogy of religious iconoclasm, then examines why and how ideological programmes are advanced through destruction of cultural property. It explores the use of iconoclasm as an instrument of religious instruction in Egypt; social transformation in China; political appropriation of territory, consolidation of power and resistance to power in Cyprus; destruction of community in the former Yugoslavia; religious ‘purification’ in Mali; protest against monarchist secularism in Iran and Western fetishism in Afghanistan; and conquest and genocide in Syria and Iraq. Particularly as some acts of iconoclasm are nonviolent, iconoclasm may be understood better as transforming signs than as breaking images.

Keywords

Iconoclasm Art destruction in history Politically motivated vandalism 

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sam Hardy
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OsloOsloNorway

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