Useful Memory and Monuments in the Modern Middle East




5th Floor Classroom


Europe saw an unprecedented rise of a historical memory culture and their monuments in the nineteenth century. While not disconnected, how did the useful past manifest itself in the Middle East? Until the end of the nineteenth century almost no monument culture existed in the Ottoman Empire. This changed in the decades before the First World War, however, still without any representations of human beings. In the period after WWI, identity figures were needed and were found in the past that was often recovered by western scholars. With independent nation states the second half of the twentieth century saw a broad variety of visual forms to remember, such as archaeological sites, films, posters and statues. In this class those identity figures and their places in their various forms in the visual culture, in Israel/Palestine, Syria and Iraq will be explored. The useful memory of the past not only includes monuments but also films, posters, etc. The figure of Sultan Saladin (12th c) will be a kind running theme. There will also be an introduction to parallels and differences in the development of visual and political memory and their monuments in the Middle East and the West and how they are intertwined. 3 credits.