visit the CPCR blog Cultural Security - Cultural Intelligence part of:
home research models cultural property index bios contact

Cultural Intelligence   Visit the CPCR blog to comment on Cultural Security.

Cultural Intelligence (video) analyzes the hard and soft power of antiquities, artworks, religious monuments, and historic structures as indicators of the political economy of cultural property.

Analyses of:

provide insights into the strategic role of cultural property in diplomacy and international security.

Cultural Diplomacy - public and private sector

Cultural Intelligence supports Cultural Policy by:

  • assessing risk to cultural property in political violence, armed conflict, and looting
  • informing cultural exchange of cultural property and foreign policy on cultural heritage
  • providing insight into cultural economics and cultural diplomacy.

Strategy and Tactics - risk assessments and countermeasures

Asssessents of risk to cultural property inform countermeasures for threats to cultural security (see figure to the right - red corner triangles). Predictive risk assessments have the potential to:
  • interdict trafficking of cultural property and quantify theft and looting of artworks and antiquities
  • mitigate the erosion of cultural identity and predict likely targets of political violence.

Cross-disciplinary cooperation in production of the risk assessments develops a thesaurus (upper blue triangle) for communication on matters of cultural security and leads to the creation of an ontology (lower blue region) for linking literature and data across fields of study.

Collection of Cultural Intelligence (green triangle) occurs through social networks, from open source materials, and as a product of cross-disciplinary studies.

  • Social networks of art curators/collectors and dealers/middle men yield information on trading networks. Analyses of the trading networks aid in interdiction of trafficking in artworks and antiquities.
  • Open-source collection of sales from auction catalogues and news/academic publications yield data for statistics on artworks/antiquities markets. Analyses of the market statistics provide quantitative estimates of art crime.
  • Cross-disciplinary studies enhance collection from social networks and open-source material while providing insights into erosion of cultural identity and targets of political violence.

Areas of Study

Influence of scholarship:

  • As early as World War II, art historians have actively participated in developing the tactical significance of cultural property.
  • Since World War II, the disciplines that influence the tactical significance of cultural property have expanded (e.g. archaeology and anthropology), and the disciplines relevant to assessing the tactical role of cultural property include neuroscience and psychology.

Cross-disciplinary cooperation:

  • In the Cold War era, legal scholars drew on archaeological publications to discuss the ethics of the movement of cultural patrimony from emerging nations to developed “collecting nations”.
  • Research databases specialized for tracking the literature of particular fields enable discovery of literature in disciplines that hold insights into the political value of artworks and antiquities.
  • Cross-disciplinary studies yield insights into the strategic value of cultural property as revealed in theories in international relations that explore the role of religious monuments and historic structures in a sense of security.

Systems for cross-disciplinary discovery of literature:

  • Systems for automated mining of literature across disciplines can leverage the metadata of discipline-specific research databases to identify concepts related to the symbolic/financial value of cultural property.
  • The use of such open-source systems by scholars of cultural property and intelligence analysts will inform the development of a vocabulary to discuss the tactical significance of cultural property and lead to the development of ontology to relate concepts in security studies with concepts in studies of cultural property.
  • Discovering literature on studies of cultural property and working with scholars versed in the symbolic meaning cultural property will assist intelligence analysts in generating predictive analyses.

Predictive analyses:

  • Predictive analyses identify the risks of looting posed by trafficking in antiquities and primitive art and identify interrelations with security threats in emerging nations.

See research:

"Collecting Cultural Intelligence: The Tactical Value of Cultural Property"

"Art Sales as Cultural Intelligence: Analysis of the Auction Market for African Tribal Art"

"Market Value of Culture: Quantifying the Risk of Antiquities Looting"

"Complementary Value of Databases for Discovery of Scholarly Literature"

"Metadata of Art and Architecture Research Databases"

Cultural intelligence employs collaborative research and discovery of literature to fully exploit social networks and open source material. Cross-disciplinary studies identify open-source materials and form social networks. Collaborative research of anthropologists and criminologists reveals historical trade routes and illuminates the cultural significance of antiquities, while archaeologists and neuroscientists provide insights into the political value of historic structures and emotional associations that cultures form with religious monuments. In communicating on the collection and analysis of cultural intelligence, scholars in the various disciplines develop a language for discussing the tactical significance of cultural property--a cultural-security thesaurus (upper blue triangle).

Cross-disciplinary studies 1) enhance countermeasures to trafficking and looting and 2) enable preemptive strategies to mitigate threats to cultural identity and to predict threats of political violence. Analyses of trade routes provide the means to identify dealers and middlemen who may escape notice in social networks. Literature that informs the political value of cultural property affects the market value of artworks and antiquities and, therefore, has relevance to collecting data for market statistics. In the process of countering overt threats, cross-disciplinary studies also develop means to forestall evolving threats. By characterizing the tactical significance of particular cultural objects, scholars identify relationships between the objects and physical risks--a cultural-security ontology (lower blue triangle). The ontology enables analyses that assign security risks associated with erosion of cultural identity and the destruction of religious monuments in acts of political violence.

Influence of scholarship

Historically, empires recruited scholars to capture artworks as a complement to military victory. Over the past century, cultural scholars have integrated fine art and antiquities into campaigns of conquest and assessed the political ramifications of damage to historic sites and religious monuments in military intervention. Consequently, historians, archaeologists, and legal scholars have advanced the role of cultural patrimony in international conflict from a rite of conquest to a means of combat. In World War II, art historians in the Nazi regime planned plunder of artworks and destruction of historic structures as a tactic for conquest. During the Cold War, archaeological discoveries in emerging nations enabled looting of cultural artifacts, and subsequent legal studies on the transfer of cultural property developed the value of cultural patrimony in the covert battle for control of the Third World. In the post-Cold War as transnational organized crime and terrorism exploit antiquities trafficking and target cultural sites in acts of political violence, scholars in international relations consider culture in security theories, and psychologists and neuroscientists consider fundamentals of neural development in cultural relations. Across the three periods of international conflict, cultural scholars have actively developed the tactical value of cultural patrimony and played a role in transforming the perception of plunder in the context of military victory.

See research, "Conflict Art: Scholars Develop the Tactical Value of Cultural Patrimony"


Cross-disciplinary cooperation

In 2001, the Western and Eastern worlds each experienced acts of political violence of high visibility. The demolition of the giant statues of Buddha in the Bamiyan Valley of Afghanistan in March and the bombing of World Trade Center in September caused intense emotional reactions and have had lasting psychological effects. Examination of the trauma from a neurological perspective provides insights into the covert tactical value of the targets. Research in visual neuroscience examines the progression of neural signals that exit from the eye and follow pathways of neural networks that lead to perception. Studies indicate that neural networks early in the visual pathways detect specific physical features of compound forms and that fundamental features intuitively invoke visceral reactions independently of personal associations with the compound form. As pairs of large objects, the Bamiyan Buddhas and Twin Towers share salient physical features. Together, the feature-detecting networks of the visual system and the physical features shared by the two structures provide the basis for a hypothesis on the tactical value of form that underlies overt cultural symbolism of a monument. Through the destruction of monuments with shared intuitive form, terrorists induce trauma that transcends specific cultural sensibilities. As an example of cross-disciplinary research, the visual neuroscience of feature-detection may provide insight into the selection of targets for political violence.

See research, "Collecting Cultural Intelligence: The Tactical Value of Cultural Property"


Systems for cross-disciplinary discovery of literature

Both generalized web search engines and discipline-specific bibliographic databases will need to evolve to remain competitive—comprehensive and authoritative—in discovery of scholarly literature. Initiatives such as Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic-live Search, acknowledge the importance of specialization in searching for scholarly literature, and rising expectations of comprehensive access require that discipline-specific databases increase coverage. In parallel, cross-disciplinary pursuits such as neuroaesthetics—neuroscience and art history—increase the need for an integrated search of specialized databases. By following models of open collaboration in Web 2.0 and applying thesauri in the ontology of the Semantic Web, producers of discipline-specific databases can apply existing knowledge bases not only to expand coverage and maximize discovery of scholarly literature but also to foster interdisciplinarity. A strategy for leveraging primary assets of a specialized database—discipline-specific partnerships, expert abstracts and indexing, and discipline-specific thesauri—serves as a case study. The strategy illuminates the potential for integrating a discipline-specific database in the humanities with datasets from the sciences through the evolving infrastructure of the Web.

See research:
"Complementary Value of Databases for Discovery of Scholarly Literature"
"Metadata of Art and Architecture Research Databases"


Predictive analyses

The diagram to the right illustrates information sources and intelligence products for targeting particular security threats in emerging nations with unexcavated, coveted cultural artifacts. Information sources comprise on-line auction catalogs as open-source material and antiquities dealers as human assets. Security threats in a particular “source nation” include, looting of antiquities, organized crime that may support insurgents/terrorist groups and foster political corruption, and the resulting social instability. The collection and analysis of data follows a process: 1) Sales data of licit trading is harvested from on-line auction catalogs. 2) Analysis of the sales data generates market statistics by source nation. 3) Risk assessments rank source nations according to the relative demand for and value of cultural artifacts. 4) The assessments identify source nations at risk of looting and specify source nations in which to develop antiquities dealers as human assets. 5) Dealers provide data on illicit trading of cultural artifacts and, potentially, on other major illicit markets. 6) The data collected from dealers enhance the market statistics and provide intelligence on trafficking networks. 7) Intelligence on the trafficking networks enables more detailed assessments of looting and identifies the interrelation of antiquities trafficking and security threats in the source nation.

See research:
"Art Sales as Cultural Intelligence: Analysis of the Auction Market for African Tribal Art"
"Market Value of Culture: Quantifying the Risk of Antiquities Looting"


Santa Monica, California, USA ©2001-2016 Cultural Security