NEW RESEARCH: Heritage Destruction and Collective Memory

NEW RESEARCH: Heritage Destruction and Collective Memory

Blue Shield International is excited to support new research with Blue Shield Türkiye and Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University – “Effects of War Trauma on Students from War Areas: Heritage Destruction and Collective Memory“.

Heritage, as embodied in architecture, is often a target in conflict – the goal of those fighting can be to attack and destroy an idea or ideology manifest in tangible heritage, as part of a wider attack on the people connected it. Places shape experiences, contain memories, and in turn shape memory and identity. Such memories are not only those of individuals, but of society – of collective urban memory. As Hadis Abula writes “it could be said that war actually targets memory. Attacks on cities are, in one sense, attacks on the urban memory” of the people connected to the place. Societies begin to forget past events and lose the essential connection between the past and present. How the destruction of the past is presented becomes a moral responsibility for those in the present, writes Sahar Riyadh Naser.

Consequently, destruction of any part of a city, and especially the destruction of places that are shaping memory, affects urban memory, and that is the theme of these papers. 

The authors "spoke of how this made them unbelievably sad – many shed tears when they mentioned the destruction of their heritage".

Heavily damaged building with a mostly intact green dome
Al-Nuri Mosque, Mosul, after it's destruction by the Islamic State © Levi Clancy, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Together with a personal Introduction from Professor Dr Zeynep Aygen, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University and Blue Shield Türkiye, this research presents four research papers from students from areas affected by war – they discuss case studies from conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Algeria, and Kosovo.

  1. Introduction
    Dr Zeynep Aygen

  2. Architectural Trauma In Urban Memory: The Case Of Gjakova And Prizren
    Hadis Abdula

  3. The Impact of Long Wars on the Cultural Herıtage of Afghanıstan: The Herat Musalla Complex as a Case Study
    Nasir Ahmad Yawar

  4. Revealing the Collective Memory in the Digital Reconstruction of the Lost Cultural Heritage – Example of Al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul
    Sahar Riyadh Naser

  5. Colonial Destructions of Natural and Cultural Heritage: Tunisia’s and Algeria’s Cases During the French Colonisation
    Asma Jemmali

Each case study represents a personal insight into those directly affected by war and its legacy, from colonial era impacts in North Africa through to the recent destruction in Iraq by the Islamic State, as well as an academic study of the wider impacts. A variety of perspectives, are offered including spatial and architectural analyses of destruction,  eyewitness testimony, and – offering hope – the potential of physical and digital reconstruction to reconnect communities (and the wider world) with their lost heritage.

"Among these war sufferers, my postgraduate students in particular seem to have discovered a way to express their feelings in their academic work. It my belief that this helps their healing process and, at the same time, it becomes a way for them to show people what they are going through, and to raise awareness about war damage. By reading these papers, our readers will not only see how these young people suffer, but the situations in their home countries will come a little closer to you – and you will come a closer to what historic heritage means for human beings".


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