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Public Lecture and Debate

Exchanges on the Middle East: Heritage for Citizenship in Times of Conflict

  • Amr al-Azm
  • May al-Ibrashy
  • Cynthia P. Schneider
Thursday 11 May 2017
Humanity House
Prinsegracht 8
2512GA Den Haag
Genève Zaal

Images of destruction of Muslim saint tombs, and ancient monuments accompany news items on violent conflicts and war in the Middle East. In this public lecture and debate, a panel of international experts with a background in policy, academia, and non-governmental organizations will explore how heritage management can foster citizenship and social cohesion in post-conflict situations. This event is organized by LUCIS and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Open to all!

No admission fee, but registration is required: REGISTER HERE.

Moderator | Sada Mire

Dr Sada Mire main research interests are archaeological and anthropological theory and practice and cultural heritage studies. She specialises in the archaeology, ethnography and history of the peoples of North-East Africa, particularly Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Kenya.


Amr al-Azm | Shawnee State University

Amr Al Azm was educated in the UK, reading Archaeology of Western Asiatics at the University College, London and graduated with a doctoral degree in1991. He was the Director of Scientific and Conservation Laboratories at the General Department of Antiquities and Museums (1999-2004) and taught at the University of Damascus until 2006. From 2006-2009 he became a visiting Professor at Brigham Young University. Currently he is an Associate Professor of Middle East History and Anthropology at Shawnee State University in Ohio.

Whilst working in Syria Amr Al-Azm was a first hand observer and sometime participant of the reform processes instigated by Bashar Al-Assad thus gaining insights into how they were enacted and why more often than not they failed. Furthermore he is an outspoken member of the Syrian opposition and a keen follower and commentator on current events in Syria and the Middle East in general. He has appeared as a Syria expert on leading television networks, including the CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera, PBS and his voice can be heard regularly on NPR. He has written articles in numerous journals, and major media outlets including guest editorials for the New York Times and Time Magazine.

Amr Al-Azm is a founder and board member on The Day After project (TDA) and currently coordinates the Heritage Protection Initiative (HPI) for cultural heritage protection at the TDA. He is also a senior advisor the ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives team.

May al-Ibrashy | The American University of Cairo

May al-Ibrashy is a conservation architect and architectural historian, She is founder and chair of the Built Environment Collective, an Egyptian NGO and director of Megawra, its commercial arm. She is coordinator of Athar Lina, a participatory initiative integrating conservation and community development based in Historic Cairo.  She is also adjunct lecturer of architecture at the American University in Cairo.

Cynthia P. Schneider | Georgetown University

Cynthia P. Schneider, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, teaches, publishes, and organizes initiatives in the field of cultural diplomacy.  Ambassador Schneider co-directs the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown, as well as the Los Angeles-based MOST Resource (Muslims on Screen and Television). Additionally, she co-directs the Timbuktu Renaissance, an innovative strategy and platform for countering extremism and promoting peace and development, which grew out of her work leading the Arts and Culture Dialogue Initiative  within Brookings’ Center for Middle East Policy. Dr. Schneider speaks and publishes frequently on topic related to arts, culture, and media and international affairs (Huffington PostCNN.com,  Foreign Policy,  Brookings).

Professor Schneider teaches courses in Diplomacy and Culture in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown, where, from 1984-2005, she was a member of the art history faculty, and published on Rembrandt and seventeenth century Dutch art.

From 1998-2001, she served as U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands.

Heritage for Citizenship in Times of Conflict | Public Lectures and Debate

In the polarized societies of the MENA region, where economic, social, and political-religious juxtapositions have led to devastating conflicts, the destruction of cultural heritage is widely publicized. However, heritage also functions as a tool to promote social-political cohesions and transsectional identity. With national governments struggling to gain legitimacy, cultural heritage can be a terrain to stimulate citizenship (see for instance The Timbuktu Renaissance Initiative in Mali). At the same time it is exactly the lack of trust and solidarity with government structures that makes the development of cultural heritage initiatives and the involvement of national and international, public, and private partners, so precarious. Issues to be addressed by our speakers will be:

  • How does the fostering of cultural heritage and the implementation of restauration projects stimulate the national consciousness raising of the people?
  • Can heritage benefit the countries in the Middle East and North Africa, in terms of (economic) reconstruction, social cohesion, and peace, and if so: how?
  • Can heritage be used to foster citizenship? Are there best practices we could learn from?

About Exchanges on the Middle East

Exchanges on the Middle East is a collaboration between the Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society (LUCIS), and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs North Africa and Middle East Department.

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