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ISIS and heritage destruction: A sentiment analysis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Emma CunliffeORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Cambridge University Press, 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


The use of heritage destruction by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) has garnered international media attention - and widespread condemnation - across the English-speaking world, and so is of international interest to readers. Whilst some of their heritage destruction propaganda is in English, most is in Arabic, leaving questions unanswered about what they are doing, why, and whether it is successful. There has been little available evidence to support the theories circulating. This paper presents the results of a collation of events, media releases and an innovate analysis of the sentiments displayed in 1.5 million Arabic-language Tweets relating to heritage destruction and ISIS over a 9-month period. It seeks to gain a deeper understanding of why ISIS destroy heritage, and what effect their propaganda has across the Arabic-speaking world. This study is the result of a partnership between the University of Newcastle and the Voices from the Blogs team at the University of Milan, using a unique form of a political science tool called sentiment analysis that has been specifically designed to evaluate large datasets, making this study the first large-scale assessment of responses to heritage destruction.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Cunliffe E, Curini I

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Antiquity

Year: 2018

Volume: 92

Issue: 364

Pages: 1094-1111

Online publication date: 22/08/2018

Acceptance date: 27/02/2018

Date deposited: 24/10/2018

ISSN (print): 0003-598X

ISSN (electronic): 1745-1744

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2018.134


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