Erik Nemeth

RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California, United States

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Publications (14)1.59 Total impact

  • Erik Nemeth
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    ABSTRACT: Legal and financial developments, and the ramifications for security, expand the significance of the political economy of cultural property. Specifically, the politics of cultural property and economics of the art market indicate a complement to hard and soft power in foreign relations. The source of the power is not the artworks and cultural heritage sites per se but the emotional appeal of art and the role of culture in identity. Antiquities, masterworks, and monuments are one aspect of art, and art is one aspect of culture. As such, markets for artworks and laws for protection of cultural heritage serve as indicators with which to track, and potentially anticipate, the political economy of cultural property in the twenty-first century.
    02/2013;
  • Erik Nemeth
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    ABSTRACT: Recent armed conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan and political violence in Egypt have revealed the strategic significance of cultural property. This paper assesses the role of historic sites and antiquities in foreign engagement. Over the past century, U.S. foreign policy has had successes and shortcomings in leveraging protection of cultural patrimony to strategic advantage. The contrast of successful policy on the protection of immovable cultural property, such as religious monuments, in armed conflict and missed opportunities for tactical intelligence on the trade in movable cultural property, such as antiquities trafficking, identifies potential for development of foreign policy.
    03/2012;
  • Erik Nemeth
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    ABSTRACT: Three issues with far-reaching causes and consequences, climate change, water scarcity, and pandemics, are examined with attention to their national security implications and impacts on the global commons. The authors aim to trigger new ways of thinking about the complex challenges of these issues. Because their effects are mostly the result of individuals and states acting out of self-interest rather than harmful intent, these three issues are treated as "threats without threateners." With sources and solutions that cross national and regional boundaries, multiple parties working together are more effective than unilateral action. In all three areas, risks are hard to assess, in both severity and time frame; therefore, mustering political will and coalitions for action is inherently difficult. The paper describes four overlapping clusters of policy approaches, international negotiations, coalitions of the willing, transcommunity networking, and anti-fragile approaches, and their relative successes and limitations. Considered one of the policy approaches with the greatest potential for tackling interconnected global challenges, anti-fragile systems do not just cope with change or uncertainty; they benefit from them. They search for alternatives that attract new participants, scale to accommodate those new participants, and create positive feedback loops that enable them not only to perform as well as or better than legacy systems but to continually improve over time. Using suggestive examples to illustrate each type of approach, the paper builds a case for the evolution of policy away from fixing problems and toward new possibilities and combinations of methods to address threats that are both chronic and acute (as appears on the RAND Corporation web site).
    01/2012;
  • Source
    Erik Nemeth
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    ABSTRACT: The tightening interrelation of cultural property and international security - cultural security - creates a need for the collection and analysis of specialized intelligence. “Cultural intelligence” enables assessments of the tactical and strategic significance of antiquities, fine art, and cultural heritage sites to national and regional security. This paper defines a framework for the collection of cultural intelligence as a fundamental asset in countering threats to cultural security. Looting of antiquities as a tactic in campaigns of cultural cleansing, trafficking in antiquities as a source of funding for insurgents, and targeting of historic structures and religious monuments in political violence represent distinct threats to regional security. A critical initial step in countering the threats includes marshalling appropriate sources of information. Publications that report on the art market and cultural property globally and players in the antiquities trade offer opportunities as sources of cultural intelligence. Ultimately, the development of tactical and strategic cultural intelligence can reveal trafficking networks and assess risks to cultural heritage sites. As a starting point, this paper identifies viable sources of cultural intelligence. Conflicts in Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003) provide examples in retrospect, while volatility in Mali presents an opportunity in the context of an emerging security risk. In conclusion, the paper speculates on the applications of cultural intelligence in regional security.
    International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence 07/2011;
  • Erik Nemeth
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    ABSTRACT: Military engagement of insurgents risks destruction of religious monuments and historic structures, and political and economic instability that follows armed conflict enables looting of antiquities. In combination, threats to cultural structures and movable cultural patrimony compromise cultural security. This paper explores the potential of the art market for open-source intelligence assessments of cultural security. A comparison of the market value of artifacts of different ethnic origins provides a measure of the risk of looting of cultural patrimony by geographic region. Intelligence assessments of the relative desirability of cultural artifacts by region of origin can inform strategic planning to mitigate looting in conflict zones and to alert security services to emerging threats of trafficking in cultural patrimony.
    Intelligence & National Security 07/2011;
  • Erik Nemeth
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    ABSTRACT: The market value of tribal art has implications for the risk of looting in Africa. Consequent trafficking in tribal art compromises security on the continent by eroding cultural identity, fostering public-sector corruption, and providing a source of revenue for insurgents. This paper examines auction sales of African tribal art for the continent as a whole and by individual nations of origin. Graphical analysis of sales data from the past nine years identifies distinct market trends for temporal comparison with security in nations from which the artworks originate. The analysis suggests that collecting trends in “market nations” may reflect perceptions of security in “source nations”.
    01/2011;
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    Erik Nemeth
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    ABSTRACT: The traditionally clandestine nature of the art market poses challenges to assessing looting and trafficking in developing nations. In the absence of direct information on transactions in source nations, sales at auction provide a sense of the market value and trade volume of antiquities and primitive art. Auction houses openly publish results of auctions and enable access to sales archives through web sites. On-line access to sales archives creates a substantive pool of data on hammer prices from auctions around the world. Sales archives also contain detailed descriptions of the artworks. The description that accompanies an auction lot can identify the geographic origin of the artwork. Data mining of sales archives for hammer price and origin enables analysis of market value by source nation. The analysis assesses relative market value and, thereby, contributes to an assessment of relative risks of looting across developing nations.
    09/2010;
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    Erik Nemeth
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    ABSTRACT: Discovery of academic literature through Web search engines challenges the traditional role of specialized research databases. Creation of literature outside of academic presses and peer-reviewed publications expands the content for scholarly research within a particular field. The resulting body of literature raises the question of whether scholars prefer the perceived broader access of Web search engines or opt for the precision of field-specific research databases. Surveys of art historians indicate a complementary use of on-line search tools with a reliance on field-specific research databases to discover authoritative content. Active use of Web search engines and initiatives for open access suggest that research databases will integrate into an evolving Web-based infrastructure that supports discovery and access of scholarly literature.
    College & Research Libraries 05/2010; · 0.82 Impact Factor
  • Erik Nemeth
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    ABSTRACT: 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 developing 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. 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.
    01/2010;
  • Erik Nemeth
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    ABSTRACT: Against a backdrop of increasing access to full text and the perceived success of Web search engines, academic disciplines with highly specialized, if not esoteric, nomenclature remain in need of specially crafted metadata. Art history and the study of architecture represent two such disciplines. Historically, field-specific research databases have maintained canons of citations complemented with descriptive abstracting and precise indexing. Surveys of art and architectural historians identify the value of abstracting and indexing to scholarly research. The perceived importance indicates a need to integrate discipline-specific abstracts and vocabularies into the evolving Web-based infrastructure for searching of scholarly literature and to enable the continued production of such metadata.
    01/2009;
  • Erik Nemeth
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    ABSTRACT: Reflection on wartime treatment of artworks, historic buildings, and religious monuments since World War I reveals the compounding value of cultural property in foreign affairs. The poignant plunder of artworks during World War II has led to a history of restitution that suggests a model for the resolution of wartime art crime. The exploitation of cultural artifacts in developing nations during the Cold War era tests the model for repatriation of antiquities, and the destruction of historic and religious monuments in the post-Cold War period offers an opportunity to apply the model in predictive analysis for strategies in foreign policy. Specific examples illustrate the maturing market value of Nazi plunder. Successful restitution cases and an expanding art market inspire repatriation of looted antiquities. The financial and political significance of artworks decades after the wartime art crime indicate that the clout of displaced cultural property in foreign affairs increases with time.
    01/2009;
  • Erik Nemeth
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    ABSTRACT: International conventions that criminalize wartime abuse of cultural property and bilateral treaties that target trafficking in antiquities reflect evolving consideration for looted art in foreign policy. Since the poignant plunder of Jewish collections by Nazi authorities, restitution of artworks has garnered political clout, and looting of developing nations during the Cold War era compounded the significance of cultural property in foreign affairs. In parallel, the increasing financial volume of the art market over the past half-century has attracted the attention of transnational organized crime and has implications for funding of terrorist groups. This paper examines how security-intelligence services of World War II and the Cold War have controlled the looting and recovery of fine art and antiquities. The examination reveals that, in the post-Cold War period, the areas of application for foreign intelligence on looted art have expanded from diplomacy to security policy.
    01/2009;
  • Erik Nemeth
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    ABSTRACT: In the background of immediate threats of terrorism and political violence, a non-physical, insidious threat to international security develops. Progressive abuses against cultural heritage support campaigns of terrorism while simultaneously undermining the political credibility of targeted nations. This paper emphasizes the need for art-centric intelligence to counter the political and financial benefits that terrorist groups gain from the erosion of cultural heritage. Primary types of erosion include wanton destruction of cultural property in campaigns of ethnic cleansing, looting of undocumented cultural artifacts, and collateral damage to historic buildings and religious monuments during military action against terrorist groups. While all types of destruction confer political clout on terrorist groups, wartime destruction and looting of cultural artifacts directly impact nations that combat terrorism. During armed conflict, invading nations incur political liability by negligently damaging cultural property. Similarly, so-called collecting nations incur political liability as private individuals encourage erosion of cultural heritage by creating a viable market for looted antiquities. Through an informal proposal for an art-intelligence program, this paper examines immediate political risks engendered by physical erosion of cultural heritage and speculates on evolving threats to international security as transnational terrorist groups capitalize on the intangible value of manipulating cultural identity.
    International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence 02/2008;
  • Erik Nemeth
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    ABSTRACT: By examining the historically progressive role of cultural property in terrorism and political violence, this paper reveals the evolving significance of art to international security. Over the past two centuries, abuse of antiquities and fine art has evolved from the spoils-of-war into a medium for conducting terrorism which strives to erase the cultural heritage of ‘the other’. In contrast to wartime destruction and plunder which date back millennia, the growth of the art market over the past fifty years has created opportunities for novel abuses of cultural property. Since World War II, maturing international awareness has recognized the threat which armed conflict and looting pose to cultural property, but in parallel, art trafficking and the politics of cultural property have become tools for transnational organized crime and terrorist groups. The resulting unique intersection of issues in art, politics and counterterrorism forms the basis for a new field - cultural security. After an assessment of topical security threats which suggest the need for such a field, the paper concludes by speculating on international-security risks precipitating from antiquities trafficking and collecting.
    Terrorism and Political Violence 01/2007; · 0.77 Impact Factor