Accessibility statement

Samir Belgacem

Research project

Decolonizing heritage conservation and policy in Algeria: between consonance, dissonance, and (national) identity.

Supervisors: Dr. Louise Cooke and Prof. Stephanie Wynne-Jones

I am working on the heritage conservation practice in Algeria. The aim of my research is to formulate best practice advice for the heritage conservation in the country, based on evidence collected from interviews undertaken among a wide spectrum of individuals composing the present Algerian society.

My research first looks into creating a historiography to document the origins and evolution of the heritage conservation legislation and practice in Algeria, starting from the early colonial period to present day, influenced by the French classical views on Algeria, to establish the diagnosis of the lack of effectiveness of heritage valuation today.

It then aims at collecting evidence to support a new conservation philosophy based on the social valuation of the people who experience their heritage and to whom it belongs, in order to decolonize the present conservation practice inherited from French neoclassicists like Viollet-le-Duc and Prosper Mérimée, present in Algeria in particular and in formerly colonized countries in general, that silences indiginous voices to the benefit of a colonial and imperialist agenda.


Samir is an Algerian historical sociologist. His background is in architecture and town planning, during which he has studied multiple issues related to identity and memory, including notions around heritage construction and human interrelationships related to their common history. He is particularly interested in how people decided what was their heritage and what wasn’t.

His research interests are in heritage values, more precisely how local people who experience historic sites where they live or interact do so, in an attempt to better understand the social valuation of heritage and explore more solutions for a sustainable heritage valuation and conservation. He interrogates whether, other than nationalism, other factors could allow for an effective heritage practice, like religion and environment.

Publications and Awards

Papers and book chapters:

  • Belgacem, S. (forthcoming). Similitudes and divergences of treatment of the Georgian heritage between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
  • May 2021 - ICOMOS Series | ISCARSAH Webinar – Authenticity and Reconstruction: The case of Algiers’ Kasbah.


  • 2019 Global Excellence Scholarship Award, University of Dundee
  • 2020 Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Prize, Scotland: Best overall marks in the MSc Spatial Planning programmes (January and September cohorts combined).

Teaching & Impact

Modules taught at the University of York:

Academic year 2020 - 2021:

  • Designing Research: April - May 2021

Academic year 2021 - 2022:

  • Geographic Information System: October 2021
  • Themes in Historical Archaeology - Vikings: November 2021
  • Themes in Historical Archaeology - Medieval Africa: January 2022
  • Researching Archaeology - Prehistory: January - March 2022
  • Designing Research: April - May 2022

Contact details

Samir Belgacem
Department of Archaeology
University of York
Kings Manor
YO10 5DD