Mada Saleh (Berlin): Towards new identities: Architecture as a tool for state building (examples from Syria and Iraq)

Technische Universität Berlin
Hörsaal H 0112, Hauptgebäude
Str. des 17. Juni 135
10623 Berlin

Architectural monuments are a perfect materialization of history, whether modern or old, they still represent a very good material symbolization of the basic economic, social and political characteristics of the era they were built in. This very specific historical and symbolising value unifies different Syrian monuments such as Al-Hijaz station, the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, Aleppo citadel, Apamea main street and collonades and Palmyra temples and colonnade and al-Hijaz station in Damascusarches. The strong historical symbolism they share, has qualified them to play a major role in the state building process in Syria. Together with other modern architectural monuments, they became an identity symbol of the modern Syrian Arab Republic.

The intention of the presentation is therefore to discuss the mutual relation between „state building” and “architecture” (modern and historical). It is proceeded at three levels: the first part presents an overview of the state building ideology from the Ottoman Empire passing by Sykes-Picot agreement, the pan-Arabism-socialist period and reaching the current 2011 civil war. The second part is devoted to the current civil war in Syria. How the basic fighting streams does addresses the Syrian world heritage and socialist symbols. It overviews and analysis the main Islamic legalisations related to historical architecture and archaeology which ISIS (Islamic State in Syria and Iraq) baeres ?? on. This reveals the invisible role of the architectural monuments and visual symbolisation in resisting the creation of a counter national identity, and supports this hypothesis with comparable examples and cases. The last part rises up the question of how to formulate the futuristic Syria that accommodates all of its identities.

Mada Saleh is a PhD student at the Technische Universität  (TU) Berlin, Department of Building Archaeology and Heritage Conservation. She studied Architectural Engineering in Syria at the University of Kalamoon, and Archaeology at the University of Aleppo, to continue in Berlin with a master of heritage conservation at the TU-Berlin(MSc). Since 2015 she is working as a research assistant and graduate teaching at the department of building archaeology TU-Berlin (Professor Dr. Thekla Schulz-Brize). Mada is currently working also as a flying professor at the German Jordanian University of Amman (M.Sc. in Architectural Con-servation).  She has participated in many lectures, workshops and consultancy works in relation to refugees (Save the Children Germany). Added to her recent work, Mada has worked in several projects (Syrian Heritage Project Archive, Mschatta Palace, Resafa: Syria, Didyma: Turkey, Karachi Museum: Pakistan). Her PhD research is about strategies of rehabilitation in the old cities after a civilwar (Case study: Old city of Erbil outside the walls) under the supervision of Professor Dr. Dorothée Sack, and funded by the Heinrich Böll Stiftung in Berlin.