The Rojava Revolution

Syrian Village

A unique experiment in ‘stateless democracy’ and effective armed resistance against ISIS in Northern Syria is led by Kurdish women. Could their innovative model for social organization, which has brought peace, stability and progress to their region over the past three years, provide a way out for the crisis in Syria and other minorities in the Middle East? A personal account of a ‘political tourism’ visit to Rojava.

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Art and Soft Power in the Gulf

Article published in Issue #47 of Afkar / Ideas published in October 2015 by the European Institute of the Mediterranean in Barcelona / French version / Spanish version

Ahmad Angawi: Ottoman Map of Mecca (detail), 2012

Ahmad Angawi: Ottoman Map of Mecca (detail), 2012

Art and Soft Power in the Gulf

Recently, there has been much news and debate about how the Gulf States are acquiring the icons of global culture, such as famous paintings, works by star artists, and even whole museums. This is seen as the exercise of ‘soft power’, defined by Joseph Nye as ‘the ability to get what you want through attraction, rather than coercion or payments’. One may wonder then, which objectives direct the Gulf’s investments in art? And, are they being achieved? Continue reading

Lessons (Not) Learnt in Afghanistan

The Remnants of an Army, by Elizabeth Butler (1879 )

The Remnants of an Army, by Elizabeth Butler (1879 ). This photograph depicts the lone survivor of the massacre (and capture/desertion) of 16.000 British Empire troops and civilians as they fled from Kabul in the winter of 1842. What have we learnt since then?

I am posting the pdfs of my visual presentations for the course ‘Lessons (Not) Learnt in Afghanistan’, given at the Paris School of International Affairs in Feb-March 2015, here. My presentations serve as visual aid and to recap the main points about a given subject; so these documents do not contain all the course material and may be, at times, even confusing out of the class context. So handle with care! Continue reading

Trip to Najran: Reflections on Saudi Cultural Heritage Policies

Prof K and the South Arabian mystery

Photo taken in the ruins of the city of Al Ukhdood (ancient Najran) by Abdelkarim Qassem

One of the premises of the ‘Searching for Ancient Arabia’ research project is the cultural diversity of the Arabian Peninsula; one of the research hypotheses being that this pluralism—well evident in ancient history—was smothered by subsequent narratives and historical developments, but that it could be a great asset for the future development of the Gulf region, particularly in artistic and cultural terms. Continue reading

Making an exhibition with my students at the Paris School of International Affairs

This year (2014) I asked my students to write their papers as catalogue contributions to an exhibition I made in Paris to coincide with the end of the term.

Here one can find the links to their papers and images of the exhibition, which I made with the help of the Window, an art space in the center of Paris run by a good friend of mine and those that contributed to the crowd funding project I ran – especially my father!

Most of my students: from left to right Alexandre Nawath, Sarah Smail, Anna-Katharina Kraft, Emma Ghariani (hidden), Lily Matras, Kristina Keenan, Kata Pali, Leo Teste, Joice Barbaresco (partially hidden), Mariam Kandil, Lucile Gasber and Malika Touddimte

Most of my students: from left to right Alexandre Hawath, Sarah Smail, Anna-Katharina Kraft, Emma Ghariani (hidden), Lily Matras, Kristina Keenan, Kata Pali, Leo Teste, Joice Barbaresco (partially hidden), Mariam Kandil, Lucile Gasber and Malika Touddimte

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‘Searching for Ancient Arabia’ – further information about the research project

A workshop will be held for all those interested in participating in this research project at the Downtown Campus (off Hamdan Street) of NYU Abu Dhabi on Tuesday 25 February, from 18:00 to 20:30.

For details about the workshop and registration see the bottom of this page.

Introduction to the research subject

Stone Altar from Marib (5th - 4th Century BC) and Bronze Statuette of the warrior Ma'dikarib, South Arabia, 6th century BC
Stone Altar from Marib (5th – 4th Century BC) and Bronze Statuette of the warrior Ma’dikarib, South Arabia (6th century BC). These and all other photos and maps/diagrams on this page are reproduced from the book “Arabia and the Arabs from the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam’ by Robert Hoyland, 2001. See below for ordering information

“Only a small proportion of the lore of the Arabs has come down to you. Had it reached you in its entirety, much scientific and literary knowledge would have been yours”

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Searching for Ancient Arabia

I’m about to start a FIND fellowship at New York University Abu Dhabi called ‘Searching for Ancient Arabia’ and I’m looking for artists, curators, critics and scholars to participate in this research project.Ancient Arabia 1

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