"Towards an Ethical Framework for Reconstructing Aleppo"

A video recording of this presentation is available here.

Abstract: As soon as the old city of Aleppo became accessible in 2017, after nearly five years of bloody combat that left the city as a skeleton, projects were almost immediately launched to restore two of the city’s most significant cultural icons; the Citadel and the Umayyad mosque. Those projects and further endeavors to reconstruct Old Aleppo, however, have been widely criticized for favoring a specific spectrum of society, and their potential role to facilitate the Syrian Government’s attempt at demographic engineering. This presentation analyzes the destruction that had affected the cultural assets of Old Aleppo between 2012 and 2017, the actors that have contributed to it, and the aims and principles underpinning their debated reconstruction plans. I conclude by stressing the need for an inclusive recovery process that responds to the complex socio-political and economic conditions of Aleppo. A process based on long-term developing plans that can foster reconciliation, democracy and social justice.

Biography: Rim Lababidi is an architect and a researcher who investigates the preservation and safeguarding of built heritage in times of peace and crises, with a special emphasis on first aid practices. Rim has been mapping and analyzing the damage to the Syrian heritage, specifically the old city of Aleppo. Her research interests include broader issues of Western practices of preservation and valuation of material culture, and their compatibility with the local values of the Islamic World.
Lababidi, Rim. "Towards an Ethical Framework for Reconstructing Aleppo." Paper presented at "Reconstruction as Violence: The Case of Aleppo," Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 10-11, 2019.
Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT
reconstruction process