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Embracing creativity: crafting heritage and mental wellbeing for the post-conflict Middle East

Tuesday 21 January 2020, 5.30PM to 18:45

Speaker(s): Dr Zena Kamash

In this talk, Dr Zena Kamash will explore the interdisciplinary links between crafting, heritage and mental well-being for people affected by conflict in the Middle East, with a focus on Syria and Iraq. She will argue that creative, people-focussed approaches can provide an antidote to the plethora of current digital reconstruction projects, which espouse technological solutionism, often without giving sufficient consideration to the communities and people who have been affected in recent conflicts. In addition, she will argue that more consideration needs to be given to the specific nature of traumatic memory (in contrast to narrative memory) in reconstruction projects, in order to help, rather than potentially hinder, the healing process. Using examples from recent art and craft workshops (‘Remembering the Romans in the Middle East and North Africa’ in 2016 and ‘Rematerialising Mosul Museum’ in 2018), she will demonstrate how embracing creativity through bringing together the curative and mindful power of crafting with heritage can rebuild a sense of individual and community pride and promote mental well-being.

Dr Zena Kamash FSA is a British-Iraqi archaeologist and Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at Royal Holloway, University of London, where she is also the Global Challenges Research Fund Cluster Lead for 'Sustainable Societies'.  She is an expert in the archaeology and heritage of the Middle East, and has published extensively on these topics. Her research now focusses on people-centred approaches to post-conflict reconstruction in the Middle East, particularly Iraq and Syria. She is currently writing a book titled Time for Healing: cultural heritage in post-conflict Syria and Iraq (Manchester University Press).

York Heritage Research Seminars are free and open for anyone to attend - no booking is required. Drinks are served from 17:15. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact



Location: K/159

Admission: Free