Yemen’s Cultural Heritage: Threats and Solutions
Date and time: Thursday, August 6, 2020, 7 pm British Summer Time (UTC+1)
An online discussion regarding the threats to the preservation of Yemen’s cultural heritage.
Yemen has been a great source of archaeological and historical interest for a long time. However, some of the country’s heritage is under threat as a result of the looting of various museums and archaeological sites, and the illegal trade of those items. Dr Amr Al Azm, codirector of the ATHAR Project, will speak to us about his work uncovering an illicit online trade in antiquities across the MENA region.
On a less tangible level, the erosion of Yemen’s culture has also been occurring in the form of the slowly depleting linguistic and biocultural diversity. Professor Janet Watson will discuss the endangered Modern South Arabian Languages (Mehri, Soqotri, Hobyot, Shihari, Harsusi and Bathar) and the efforts being made to document and preserve them.
DR AMR AL AZM is an associate professor of Middle East history and anthropology at Shawnee State University in Ohio. He was educated in the U.K., reading archaeology of Western Asiatics at the University College London, and graduated with a doctoral degree in 1991.
He was the director of Scientific and Conservation Laboratories at the General Department of Antiquities and Museums in Syria (1999-2004) and taught at the University of Damascus until 2006. From 2006-2009, he was a visiting assistant professor at Brigham Young University. While working in Syria, Al Azm was a first-hand observer and sometime participant of the reform processes instigated by Bashar Al-Assad. This experience gave him unique insight into how these reforms are enacted and why, more often than not, they fail. Al Azm is an active member of the Syrian opposition and serves on the executive committee of the Day After Project.
PROFESSOR JANET WATSON first studied Arabic & Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, then moved to SOAS, London to study Linguistics and finally to complete a PhD on the phonology and morphology of Yemeni Arabic dialects. She has held academic posts at the Universities of Edinburgh, Durham and Salford. She has also held visiting posts at the universities of Heidelberg (2003-4) and Oslo (2004-5). Professor Watson also took up the Leadership Chair for Language@Leeds at the University of Leeds on 1st May 2013.
She is on the editorial board and committee of the Seminar of Arabian Studies, the Journal of Semitic Studies, and Zeitschrift fuer Arabische Linguistik, and a member of the advisory board of the Wiener Zeitschrift fuer die Kunde des Morgenlandes.
Noha aka Inti Bint (@intibint) – Arabic for “you’re a girl” is a singer-songwriter and illustrator based in London. Having grown up between the UK, Yemen and Switzerland, her work comments on her experiences as a Yemeni woman living in the UK, and the meaning that “inti bint” has had throughout her life.
Noha is also the founder of Al Yamaniah (@al.yamaniah), an international collective of Yemeni women, shining a light on female Yemeni talent across the world. She recently co-curated an initiative called Prints For Yemen, encompassing a series of artist prints raising funds for Yemen aid, an organization providing long term and sustainable humanitarian assistance to Yemeni people regardless of race, political affiliation, ancestry or religion.