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Student Workshop

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

  • Amr al-Azm
  • May al-Ibrashy
  • Cynthia P. Schneider
Friday 12 May 2017
Turfmarkt 99
2511DP Den Haag

Images of destruction of Muslim saint tombs, and ancient monuments accompany news items on violent conflicts and war in the Middle East. As part of a series of activities entitled: "Exchanges on the Middle East: Heritage for Citizenship in Times of Conflict", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and LUCIS organize a student workshop on heritage management, preservation practices, and citizenship in post-conflict situations. The workshop will be in English and participation is free. Limited number of seats available.

Please register at: lucis@hum.leidenuniv.nl

Participating experts

Amr al-Azm | Shawnee State University

Amr al-Azm was director of the Scientific and Conservation Laboratories at the General Department of Antiquities and Museums in Syria (1999-2004), and professor at the University of Damascus until 2006. He is a first-hand witness of Syrian governmental heritage politics.

May al-Ibrashy | The American University of Cairo

May al-Ibrashy is an architect, art historian, and conservator. She is also the co-founder of Megawra, a non-governmental organization working on restauration projects and education in heritage management for local population in Cairo (Egypt).

Cynthia P. Schneider | Georgetown University

Cynthia P. Schneider is a former US Ambassador to the Netherlands, a distinguished professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at the School of Foreign Service, and a member of the Timbuktu Renaissance Initiative. This initiative aims to accomplish peace and prosperity by protecting and stimulating heritage and living culture in Mali, and in particular in Timbuktu. In addition she is co-director of MOST Resource, co-director of Timbuktu Renaissance, and a senior non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution.

About the student workshop

In this workshop, students will be trained from a critical theoretical and comparative perspective to engage with the work of Amr al-Azm, May al-Ibrashy and Cynthia P. Schneider. They are also encouraged to articulate questions for the participating experts.

The workshop will be in English, participation is free. We have only a limited number of seats available. Register as soon as possible at lucis@hum.leidenuniv.nl!

As preparation for the workshop, the students are strongly recommended to attend the panel discussion which will take place on 11 May 2017 at 17:00-18:30 hours at Humanity House, The Hague.


In order to participate in the workshop, students will need to prepare several readings:

Amr Al-Azm

Amr Al-Azm. "The Pillaging of Syria's Cultural Heritage.” Middle East Institute, 22 May 2015.

Amr Al-Azm. “Why ISIS Wants to Destroy Syria’s Cultural Heritage.” Time, 8 October 2015.

May al-Ibrashy

Lara El Gibaly. "Megrawa: Making Sure Heritage is a Resource, not a Burden." Mada Masr, 7 March 2017.

May al-Ibrashy. Draft. "Integrated Participatory Approaches to Convert Heritage into a Community Resource: Athar Lina Initiative in Historic Cairo." Request a copy at: lucis@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

Website Athar Lina.

Website Megawra.

Cynthia P. Schneider

Cynthia P Schneider. “Why  Culture Matters.” Arguendo, 22 June 2016.

Morgan Freeman. Video The Timbuktu Renaissance.

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

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 in this series of activities 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?

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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