Mohamad Meqdad is a PhD candidate, supervised by Prof. dr. Dick Douwes, supported jointly by Erasmus University Rotterdam and Aga Khan University, London.
Religious Cultural Heritage at the Time of Armed Conflicts: Syrian Religious Cultural Heritage between 2011-2019
Religious Cultural Heritage Spaces (RCHS) and their collections of ‘religious’ material culture, represent a spatial landmark of the religious identity of their users. The existing relationship between the RCHS and its diverse range of stakeholders is a construct of a lengthy, often inherited from previous generations, engagement and communication process of meaning-making. Typically, this constructed communicational relationship is/has been translated into values and hence decisions that determine how a community could interact, individually or collectively, with its own as well as with other communities’ RCHSs. However, since the historical development of such a communication and interaction is subject to, and usually is shaped by, the changing religious, social and political contexts of RCHS, this project aims to explore the effects of the modern armed conflicts and their roles in altering and diverging or empowering and enforcing the pre-conflict narratives onto the post-conflict ones.
The changes in meaning-making process and values during armed conflicts are commonly accompanied with, if not made of, violence toward RCHS, as one of the intentional or unintentional implemented mechanisms to harm rivals or to establish an alternative socio-political narrative/s. Therefore, destruction, as much as preservation, is a striking salient phenomenon that invites approving or disapproving responses from the other stakeholders locally, nationally and internationally. Based on that, in order to understand how RCHS is dealt with during armed conflicts, this project seeks to scrutinise the phenomenon of destruction, and preservation, in light of the Cultural Theory and its textual approach. To this end, the project will focus on selected samples of the Syrian Religious Cultural Heritage Spaces that have been affected during the current crisis (2011-2019) to analyse their destruction, and the subsequent preservation efforts, and to explore their envisaged reconciliatory/conflictual post-conflict roles locally, national and internationally.