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Keynote Address by Sinan Antoon

Oct 14, 2016

Sinan Antoon (New York University) gave a keynote address on the destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria and the challenges of representing “the ruins of ruins” faced by literary and artistic imaginations. This event, as part of the Cluster’s Annual Conference, took place on Thursday, October 13.

In recent years, dictatorship and military occupations (or “interference”) have led to the disintegration of the state and the spread of proxy wars in Iraq and Syria. In addition to countless lives and spaces, the massive violence unleashed by these events has also claimed sites and structures widely considered to be national (and “global”) treasures in both countries.

Many scholars, archeologists, and specialists, native and foreign, are at pains as to respond to this destruction and find ways and means to ameliorate its effects. With the proliferation of ruins, producers of culture, writers, artists, are confronted with the ruins of ruins and the challenge of representation.

In the talk, the poet, novelist, scholar, and Associate Professor at New York University explored questions such as “what is at stake in these attempts at discursive preservation?” “What kinds of ideological traps lie in wait for those engaging in them?” “How is loss emplotted and to what end?” Antoon responded to these questions with reference to examples from the works of Iraqi and Syrian writers and artists.

Sinan Antoon is a poet, novelist and translator. His poems and essays appeared on many Arabic and English publications. As a scholar, his teaching and research interests lie in pre-modern and modern Arabic literature and contemporary Arab culture and politics.

This talk was the second keynote speech of the Cluster’s Annual Conference 2016. With the title "Making, Sustaining, Breaking - The Politics of Heritage and Culture", this event is a collaborative enterprise of the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” at Heidelberg University, the Forum Transregionale Studien, the Max Weber Stiftung - Deutsche Geisteswissenschaftliche Institute im Ausland, and the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin. It is organised by Prof. Dr. Monica Juneja, Dr. Michael Falser and Dr. Philipp Stockhammer on behalf of Research Area D "Historicities and Heritage".


Please visit the conference website for the detailed programme and further information.


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