Programme: Destruction/(Re-)Construction, Sep 30–Oct 2, 2019, Beirut

Announcement from Konstantin Klein:

Destruction/(Re-)Construction: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Cultural Heritage in Conflict

Beirut/Lebanon, 30 September–2 October 2019
International Conference of the Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities (AGYA).
Organized by Julia Hauser (Kassel), Konstantin Klein (Bamberg), Lena-Maria Möller (Hamburg), and Mohammed Alwahaib (Kuwait).
In collaboration with the American University of Beirut (AUB) and the Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB).

Conference Programme

Monday, 30 September 2019 – American University of Beirut, College Hall B1

8:30 am | Registration

9:20 am | Bilal ORFALI (American University of Beirut/Lebanon) | Welcome Address

9:30 am | Konstantin KLEIN (University of Bamberg/Germany) | Scales of Loss: Why Some Buildings (Seem to) Matter more than Others – Introduction to the Conference


Session 1 | HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES AND APPROACHES | Chair: Luigi PRADA (University of Oxford/UK)

10:00 am | Vivian IBRAHIM (University of Mississippi, Oxford/USA) | UNESCO’s “Common Trust”: Saving Abu Simbel from Destruction

10:30 am | Sebastian WILLERT (Technical University of Berlin/Germany) | Safeguarding “National Antiquities”: Ottoman Attempts to Preserve Cultural Heritage in Syria during the First World War

11:00 am | Coffee & Tea

11:30 am | Aubrey YOUNG (John Hopkins University, Baltimore/USA) | Desired Pasts and Spolia: Late Antique Architectural Appropriation in Reconstruction

12 noon | Rebecca MÜLLER (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich/Germany) | Destruction and Gesture Politics in the 13th Century Mediterranean: Visualizing Conflict in the Italian Maritime Republics

12:30 | pm  Reem ALFURJANI (Scene for Cultural Heritage, Tripoli/Libya) | Community Uses of Ruins: The ‘De-Monumenting’ and ‘Re-Monumenting’ of a Colonial Symbol in the Medina of Tripoli/Libya

1:00 pm | Lunch


[The following panels on Case Studies related to Syria and South Asia will be held in parallel session. Conference guests are therefore asked to choose between the two panels.]


Session 2a | PRESERVING AND REBUILDING CULTURAL HERITAGE IN ARMED CONFLICTS: CASE STUDIES FROM SYRIA I | Chair: Zeido ZEIDO (Brandenburg University of Technology, Cottbus-Senftenberg/Germany)

AUB, College Hall B1

2:30 pm | Yehya SERAG/Carsten VELLGUTH (Ain Shams University, Cairo/Egypt) | Ascertaining Damage on Sites of Historical Significance in Syria

3:00 pm | Zoya MASOUD (Technical University of Berlin/Germany) | A Snapshot of Aleppo’s Memorycide: Bearing to Witness the Old City Destruction: Between Misfortune and Organised Crime

3:30 pm | Coffee & Tea


Session 3a | CULTURAL HERITAGE AND CONTEMPORARY DEBATES IN SOUTH ASIA I | Chair: Julia HAUSER (University of Kassel/Germany)

AUB, Auditorium C

2:30 pm | Avishek RAY (National Institute of Technology Silchar/India) | Invention of Tradition and India’s ‘First Residential University’

3:00 pm | Swathi GORLE (Rugers University, New Brunswick/USA) | Catalyst to Conflict: The Role of World Heritage in the Sri Lankan Civil War

3:30 pm | Coffee & Tea



AUB, College Hall B1

4:00 pm | Thomas RICHARD (Centre Michel de l’Hospital de l’Université Clermont-Auvergne/France) | Filming Ruins in Syria and Iraq: Aesthetics and Meaning

4:30 pm | Ayham DALAL (Technical University of Berlin/Germany) | Reflections on Practices of Mapping Spatial Memory and Urban Heritage among Displaced Syrians

5:00 pm | Nura IBOLD (Brandenburg University of Technology, Cottbus-Senftenberg/Germany) | The Syrian Post-Conflict Narrative: Cultural Heritage between Destruction and Reconstruction


Session 3b | CULTURAL HERITAGE AND CONTEMPORY DEBATES IN SOUTH ASIA II | Chair: Julia HAUSER (University of Kassel/Germany)

AUB, Auditorium C

4:00 pm | Radhika GUPTA (Leiden University/The Netherlands) | The Aura of Ruins: Heritage and Place-Making in Kargil

4:30 pm | Anubhav PRADHAN (Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi/India)/Nooreen FATIMA (Independent Scholar, Delhi/India) | Of Saints and Sultans: Mysticism, Monumentality, and Appropriation of Heritage in Sultan Garhi

5:00 pm | Sarover ZAIDI (Jindal School of Art and Architecture, Delhi/India) | Of Flyovers and Muslim Mohallas: Mapping the Political Horizons of Bombay



Beit Beirut, Independence Street

7:00 pm | Doors open at Beit Beirut – Light Refreshments

7:40 pm | Claus-Peter HAASE (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin/Germany) | Welcome Address

7:50 pm | Konstantin KLEIN (University of Bamberg/Germany) | Introduction of the Speaker

8:00 pm | Alexander FISCHER (University of Basel/Switzerland) | Destruction and Us: How a Burning Notre-Dame Affects Our Emotions

9:00 pm | Buffet Dinner with AGYA Members and Conference Participants


Tuesday, 1 October 2019 – Hotel Le Commodore, Rue Baalbak, Conference Room

Session 4 | DESTRUCTION IN PUBLIC HISTORY | Chair: Emilio BONFIGLIO (Bogaziçi University, Istanbul/Turkey)

9:00 am | Sujatha CHANDRASEKARAN (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin/Germany) | Before and After World War Two: Agendas of Construction, Destruction and Reconstruction in Berlin’s Museum Island

9:30 am | Meral AKBAS/Özge KELEKÇI (Middle East Technical University, Ankara/Turkey) | From Factory to Museum: “They Have Stolen Our Stories”

10:00 am | Zena KAMASH (Royal Holloway, London/UK) | Embracing Creativity: Crafting Heritage and Mental Wellbeing in the Post-Conflict Middle East

10:30 am | Anush HOVHANNISYAN (Armenian National Academy of Sciences, Yerevan/Armenia) | The Ruins of Moush as Transporters of History and Memory

11:00 am | Coffee & Tea


Session 5a | LIVING WITH RUINS I | Chair: Lena-Maria MÖLLER (Max Planck Institute for Private Law, Hamburg/Germany)

11:30 am | Jason BERGGREN (Georgia Southwestern State University, Americus/USA) | Beyond the Confederacy: Reimaging and Reconstructing the Cultural Landscape of the American South

12 noon | Philipp GRIMBERG (Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg/Germany) | Cultural Heritage as a Political Bargaining Chip: The Case of the Yuanmingyuan in Beijing

12:30 pm | Abigail STONER (Independent Scholar, Berlin/Germany) | Reconstructing the Architectural Heritage of the Bdul

1:00 pm | Lunch


Session 5b | LIVING WITH RUINS II | Chair: Enass KHANSA (American University of Beirut)

2:30 pm | Souad SLIM (University of Balamand/Lebanon) | Restoration vs Preservation of a Ruin, or: Two Ways of Dealing with the Destruction of Cultural Heritage

3:00 pm | Paola ARDIZZOLA/Roula EL KHOURY (Lebanese American University, Beirut/Lebanon) | City of Beirut Central District: Narratives of Destruction and Re-Construction


4:30 pm | Walking Tour Hamra (1960s/1970s Architecture) for Conference Participants



Orient-Institut Beirut, Rue Hussein Beyhoum, Zokak el-Blat/Beirut

7:00 pm | Doors open at OIB – Light Refreshments

7:15 pm | Birgit SCHÄBLER (Director, Orient-Institut Beirut/Lebanon) | Welcome Address

7:30 pm | Panel Discussion: CULTURAL HERITAGE IN CONFLICT: PERSPECTIVES FROM ART AND LITERATURE | Moderator: Julia HAUSER (University of Kassel/Germany)

Panel Guests: Hoda BARAKAT (Paris/France), Ali CHERRI (Paris/France), Abed AL KADIRI (Beirut/Lebanon) and Alfred TARAZI (Beirut/Lebanon)

9:00 pm | Buffet Dinner with AGYA Members and Conference Participants


Wednesday, 2 October 2019 – American University of Beirut, College Hall B1

Session 6 | RUINS: GOOD TO THINK WITH | Chair: Stefan MANEVAL (University of Halle/Germany)

AUB, College Hall B1

9:00 am | Luise FISCHER (Fraunhofer-Zentrum, Leipzig/Germany) | Geography Lessions in the 18th Century: State-Building and National Identities

9:30 am | Lina TAHAN (University of Cambridge/UK) | The Ruins are in Ruins: The Constant Destruction of Heritage and its Implications on Society

10:00 am | Lisa MARCHI (University of Trento/Italy) | A “Poetics of Ruins”: Nadine Ltaif’s Ce que vous ne lirez pas

10:30 am | Tarek TAWFIK (Cairo University/Egypt) | Being Selective with Heritage Maintenance and Reconstruction

11:00 am | Coffee & Tea


Session 7 | RUINS IN THE COLLECTIVE MINDSCAPE | Chair: Konstantin KLEIN (University of Bamberg/Germany)

11:30 am | Andreas GRÜNER (Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg/Germany) | To Be Honest – What do We Lose? Remarks on the Value of Ruined Ruins

12 noon | Heba ABD El-GAWAD (Durham University/UK) | Missing Millions: Amplifying the Voice, Visibility, and Validity of Middle Eastern Local Communities in Heritage Destruction/Reconstruction Discourse

12:30 pm | Jan VÖLKEL (Arnold Bergstraesser Institute, University of Freiburg/Germany) | Failing States, Fainting Researchers: How the Escalating Destruction of Humanity also Tightens its Grip over Middle East Related Scholarship

1:00 pm | Lunch


[The following panels on Case Studies related to the Balkans and Palmyra will be held in parallel session. Conference guests are therefore asked to choose between the two panels.]

Session 8 | REBUILDING HERITAGE: INSIGHTS FROM THE BALKANS | Chair: Ana Marija GRBANOVIC (University of Bamberg/Germany)

AUB, College Hall B1

2:30 pm | Helen WALASEK (University of Exeter/UK) | Restoration as Witness: Cultural Heritage after Ethnic Cleansing in Post-Conflict Bosnia-Herzegovina

3:00 pm | Yuri STOJANOV (School of Oriental and African Studies, London/UK) | Between Destruction and Disneyfication: Modern Threats to Alevi and Bekt??? Sacral Heritage in the Balkans

3:30 pm | Gruia BADESCU (University of Konstanz/Germany) | Between Radical and Reflective Reconstruction: Ruins, Rebuilding, and Dealing with the Past in Post-Yugoslav Cities

4:20 pm | Coffee & Tea


Session 9 | ZENOBIA RECONSTRUCTED: PALMYRA IN THE DIGITAL AGE | Chair: Andreas GRÜNER (Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg/Germany)

AUB, Room 310

2:30 pm | Claus-Peter HAASE (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin/Germany) | “How Much is the Rebuilding of the Bel Temple?” and Other Reactions to Destruction Images of Palmyra

3:00 pm | Jennifer BAIRD (Birkbeck College, London/UK)/Zena KAMASH (Royal Holloway, London/UK)/Valeria VITALE (Institute of Classical Studies, London/UK) | Against the Archival Grain: Digital Tools for Re-Appropriation of Diasporic Archaeological Archives

3:30 pm | Rory McINNES-GIBBONS (Durham University/UK) | The Lego Arch: Plural “Palmyra”: An Ancient City in the Postmodern Age

4:00 pm | Konstantin KLEIN (University of Bamberg/Germany) | AGYA Project Presentation: Towards a Digital Corpus of Palmyrene Aramaic Inscriptions

4:20 pm | Coffee & Tea



AUB, College Hall B1

5:00 pm | Alexandra VUKOVICH (University of Oxford/UK)

Please find below the exact address of the conference venues.

American University of Beirut (AUB)
Rue Bliss
Riad El-Solh/Beirut

Beit Beirut
Elias Sarkis Avenue (Independence Street)

Hotel Le Commodore
Rue Baalbak

Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB)
Rue Hussein Beyhoum 44
Zokak el-Blat/Beirut

Attendance is free, but places are limited, please contact Konstantin Klein ( for further inquiries.

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