While researching the contemporary issues and discussions surrounding the cultural heritage of the Middle East and North Africa, destruction and preservation only scratch the surface. This section includes essays on topics varying from the intangible parts of cultural heritage to the ways in which contemporary artists from Egypt, Syria and Iraq have addressed these issues in their artwork. Looting is a prevalent problem deserving of expanded focus, as do the responses of Western countries, and those living in countries affected by the loss of cultural heritage.
Looting is distinct from other forms of destruction because the artifacts are often resold. This has created controversy as western retailers and art collectors turn a blind eye to the possibility of buying stolen goods. When an antique is identified as stolen, the questions of repatriation and reparation arise. Who is responsible for enforcing the return of looted artifacts? What ethical policies are in place to prevent the purchase of stolen items? Another related topic is the production of replicas, sold as authentic antiques, accompanied by forged documentation.
When Western countries insert themselves into the preservation of cultural heritage, discussions surrounding their motivations become necessary in determining what is ethical and to what extent their involvement is justified. Essays on ownership, cultural appropriation, and the concepts of Orientalism and Egyptomania address the inappropriate interests of the United States and Europe in the culture of the Middle East and North Africa.