Summer International Meetings
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MEPPI Symposium at Sursock Museum, Beirut, Lebanon          

From 3 to 4 May, 2017, responding to an invitation from the partners of the Middle East Photograph Preservation Initiative (MEPPI), a strategic, multi-year effort to build the capacity of individuals and institutions in the care and preservation of photograph collections in the Middle East and North Africa, Dr Zaki Aslan participated and chaired a session at a symposium examining the future direction and sustainability of photograph preservation in the Middle East and North Africa.

Several participating institutions were represented at this symposium to devise a plan aimed at sustaining this initiative in view of a search for other financial partners in the region. The initiative has achieved tangible results mainly by providing a strong network of professionals who have acquired knowledge in this particular field.

During this symposium, ICCROM-ATHAR was invited to explore possibilities of collaboration with the initiative, particularly in view of the regional interest in documenting heritage and safeguarding archival information, especially needed for the reconstruction of destroyed historic sites and monuments. A possible collaboration with MEPPI Initiative would include its expansion to reflect needs in the region for an Archival and Image Preservation Program as well as Risk Management and First Aid of photography collections of the region.

MOSAIKON Regional Course on the Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites, Meknes Morocco

Responding to an invitation by the Getty Conservation Institute, from 14 to 15 May 2017, Dr Zaki Aslan participated as an instructor in the MOSAIKON Regional Course on the Conservation of Archaeological Sites with Mosaics, and delivered a lecture on the design of protective structures for the conservation and presentation of archaeological sites.

The presentations at the event, which focused on climatic design methods and at reducing climatic impacts on the long-term conservation of archaeological sites, were also an opportunity to meet professionals from French speaking countries of the Maghreb region to share experiences of up-to-date methods for sheltering archaeological sites with mosaics. Present at the course, were also other instructors from partner organisations, such as Historic England, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture among others.

The event took place at the archaeological site of Volubilis, Morocco, forming an occasion to meet with the Director of the site, Mr. Mustapha Atki (former ICCROM- ATHAR participant), who presented the newly erected visitors centre and museum of the site. The centre was one of the fourteen recognized projects of ICCROM- ATHAR’s Best Conservation Practices in the Arab World Exhibition, held in April 2016, in Sharjah, UAE.

Preservation during Conflict: Seizing the Moment to Protect the Middle-East’s Cultural Heritage London, UK

At the invitation of the World Monuments Fund London, UK, Dr Zaki Aslan was invited on 16 May, as the principle speaker at their headline lecture ‘Heritage & Conflict: How will the Middle East recover?’ in this year’s ‘Heritage & Conflict’ series. This lecture was held at the Royal Geographical Society, discussing the current state of heritage in the region and the solutions required to address the impact of war and humanitarian crisis.

The lecture highlighted the role that ICCROM plays in the protection of cultural heritage in times of conflict and the need

to adequately plan for post-conflict reconstruction, as well as the role of the communities and refugees in the reconstruction process. The event was attended by a large British audience representing several institutions and universities including ICOMOS-UK, the British Cultural Fund, and the British Military.

Regional Consultation on the Arab Humanities, Byblos, Lebanon

A Regional Consultation meeting took place in Byblos on May 19, 2017, where, upon the invitation of the Arab Council for Social Sciences, the Regional Bureau of UNESCO in Beirut and the International Centre for Human Sciences, Dr Zaki Aslan attended the meeting as a discussant of a research paper: The Production of Knowledge of Culture and Heritage in the Arab World; From an Orientalist Gaze to a Scarce Engagement with Epistemological and Theoretical Spheres.

The paper provided a critical assessment of the nature of the production of knowledge on cultural heritage in the Arab world, focusing on current practices and the historic perspective aimed at understanding the nature of evolution in knowledge production in the field of heritage conservation. The discussion helped underline future needs to be addressed in the field of cultural heritage conservation in the MENA Region. These are related to the necessity of collaboration among actors and agents in an intersecting field. The session was held in the context of other conference sessions of the regional consultation meeting ranging from themes on philosophy, anthropology, history to media presented by notable scholars from the Arab region.

This Regional meeting helped inform trends and tracking research areas relevant to the field of cultural heritage with particular reference to the Arab region. Furthermore, the meeting also helped inform the envisaged ‘Why Heritage?’ symposium planned by ICCROM-ATHAR which will take place in February 2018, Sharjah UAE.

CIPA2017, the 26th biennial CIPA Symposium on Heritage Documentation, Ottawa, Canada

At the invitation of the CIPA (Scientific Committee for Heritage documentation Symposium ), Dr. Zaki Aslan participated as a keynote speaker in the Digital Workflows for Heritage Conservation in Ottawa, Canada that took place in the period of 28 August- September 1, 2017. The Symposium was organized by Carleton University with the support of various other partners and included an exhibition of up to date technology related to the field. Dr. Aslan’s keynote speech took place at the Aga Khan foundation in Ottawa entitled “Heritage Documentation in Times of Conflict”. It was attended by the Italian Ambassador in Canada, his Excellency Mr. Taffure, the Aga Khan Development networks residents representatives to Canada, Dr. Mahmoud Aboo and the president of ICOMOS Canada, Dr. Chistophe Rivet and was attended by professionals working in the field of heritage documentation representing several institutions worldwide.

The lecture highlighted the role that ICCROM-ATHAR plays in the protection of cultural heritage in times of conflict and the need to adequately document cultural heritage in the Arab World.

During Dr. Aslan’s stay in Ottawa, he also met the executive director of the National Trust in Canada, Ms. Natalie Bull and visited the Canadian Conservation Institute where he met Ms. Patricia Kell, the Director of Heritage of Canada and Council member of ICCROM.