The Idols of Isis


Location: 1030 Jenkins and Nanovic Halls


The Idols of Isis

Dr. Aaron Tugendhaft, University of Chicago

Wednesday, November 8th, 5:15 – 6:30

1030 Jenkins & Nanovic Halls

On February 26, 2015, the Islamic State released a video depicting destruction of ancient sculptures in the Mosul Museum. ISIS claimed that these sculptures were idols that God commanded them to destroy, while international organizations responded that as works of art that belonged to Iraqi and world heritage they needed to be preserved. This talk will explore how religion, politics, and art intersect in this image of image destruction and raise questions about the relation between images and politics in the age of social media.

Aaron Tugendhaft holds an MA from the Committee on Social Thought at Chicago and a 2012 PhD in Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies from NYU. He works on religion and political thought in the ancient near East and has published extensively in both areas, with his first book, Baal and the Politics of Poetry in press from Routledge. An article based on that work is appearing shortly in History of Political Thought; he has a U Chicago Press book in preparation for a broader audience that situates the Islamic State's destruction of ancient Near Eastern antiquities against a longer history of political-theological relations to icons and images; and his next project will be on the politics of diversity in Herodotus. He is currently a Harper-Schmidt Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at the University of Chicago.