Erik Nemeth

Photo of Erik Nemeth
Adjunct Research Staff
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in vision science, University of California, Berkeley; B.A. in computer science, University of California, Berkeley


Erik Nemeth, an independent researcher in Santa Monica, California, explores the interrelation of culture, identity, and perceptions of security ( In publishing on the intersection of cultural property, diplomacy, and regional security, he examines the evolving significance of artworks, historic structures, and monuments in foreign policy.

Following a decade in the software-development industry in the United States and the former East bloc, Nemeth pursued graduate studies in neuroscience. Dissertation research in retinal physiology led to studies in neuroaesthetics, which led to research on sharing of scholarship across disciplines. While serving as an analyst in Research Databases at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, California, Nemeth explored web-based methods for cross-disciplinary discovery of scholarly publications.

Nemeth has published in journals such as Terrorism and Political Violence, Intelligence and National Security, and Cambridge Review of International Affairs and presents at conferences in art history, archaeology, information science, and criminology. He has also taught on "Cultural Security" in the ARCA Postgraduate Program in Amelia, Italy and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Art Crime. Nemeth holds a B.A. in computer science and a Ph.D. in vision science, both from the University of California at Berkeley.

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Co-Director, Cultural Property Case Resource; Director,

Recent Projects

  • Cultural Property Case Resource: Tracking trends in retention and return of cultural property
  • Cultural Intelligence: Assessing the power of artworks and historic structures in diplomacy and foreign policy
  • Market Value of Culture: Investigating the strategic potential of cultural artifacts by nation of origin
  • Relevance of Art History Bibliographies: Assessing the value of discipline-specific research databases in the age of web-based searching
  • Cultural Security: Leveraging the evolving role of cultural property in foreign relations

Selected Publications

Erik Nemeth, Cultural Security: Evaluating the Power of Culture in International Affairs, Imperial College Press, 2015

Erik Nemeth, "Alternative Power: Political Economy of Cultural Property," Journal of International Affairs, Columbia University, SIPA, :February, 2013

Erik Nemeth, "Strategic Value of African Tribal Art: Auction sales trends as cultural intelligence," Intelligence and National Security, 27(2):302-316, 2012

Erik Nemeth, "Collecting Cultural Intelligence: The Tactical Value of Cultural Property," International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, 24(2):217-238, 2011

Erik Nemeth, "Conflict Art: Scholars Develop the Tactical Value of Cultural Patrimony," Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 23(2):299-323, 2010

Erik Nemeth, "Metadata of Art and Architecture Research Databases: The Value of Abstracts and Index Terms to Academics, Librarians, and Museum Professionals," Journal of Library Metadata, 8(4):293-313, 2009

Erik Nemeth, "Art-Intelligence Programs: Relevance of the Clandestine Art World to Foreign Intelligence," International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, 21(2):355-374, 2008

Erik Nemeth, "Cultural Security: The Evolving Role of Art in International Security," Terrorism and Political Violence, 19(1):19-42, 2007


  • people bidding at an auction

    A Gap in Cultural Intelligence

    High-end collectors and cultural-heritage abusers alike would benefit from a boost in cultural intelligence, or “CQ,” to grasp the interrelation of art, culture, economic development, and human rights, writes Erik Nemeth.

    Feb 26, 2013 The Providence Journal

  • bronze vase and scale weights in the National Museum of Afghanistan

    The Diplomatic Power of Art

    Museum directors and owners of private collections can wait to be challenged on the provenance of artifacts of foreign cultural heritage—or realize an opportunity for strengthening relations with the source nation, writes Erik Nemeth.

    Nov 16, 2012 U.S. News & World Report

  • Repatriating Part of Saddam Statue Could Promote Democracy

    Proactive protection and repatriation of artworks and artifacts can demonstrate our respect for another nation's heritage when the chaos of conflict obscures the value of cultural identity, writes Erik Nemeth.

    Jun 7, 2012 Chicago Tribune