TALK: SAHGB presents Afghanistan: Architectural Heritage and Global Politics

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Can architecture survive politics and religious differences? Twenty-one years ago, the Taliban government made global headlines with its destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan. The world cried, mourned, and moved on. Yet a small group of people stayed put. As Afghanistan became engulfed in wars and incessant turmoil in the following two decades, these individuals continued to work to preserve not only what remained in the Bamiyan Valley but also other Afghan built heritage, whether of Buddhism or Islam.

Left: The Minaret of Jam, Afghanistan, Image Courtesy of Warwick Ball | Right: Bamiyan, the smaller 38 metre Buddha surrounded by the caves of cells and monasteries, Afghanistan, Image Courtesy of Warwick Ball. 

On October 20, 2022, at 11:00 am USA-EDT or 4:00 pm UK, the Society of Architectural Historians and the Society of Architectural Historian of Great Britain (SAHGB) invite you to meet these individuals: architects, cultural specialists, UNESCO representatives, former Afghan government officials and volunteers, and other international experts. Join us for the online symposium, “Afghanistan: Architectural Heritage and Global Politics,” to converse with the former Deputy Minister of Culture of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, learn from on-site architects and ICOMOS experts, and meet the former director of the UNESCO Office in Kabul who presided over the competition of the Bamiyan Cultural Centre. You'll also view the past beauty of Afghan monuments before the Soviet-Afghan War with the co-founder of the Huntington Archive and hear from the MIT team of experts who are currently documenting endangered sites via GIS.

Join SAHGB to understand why the architectural history of Afghanistan is no longer a scholarly subject operated at a safe distance, but a ground of conviction to rescue monuments from being bombed, destroyed, defaced, and ruined. This is architectural history in action.

The full program is available here.

SAHGB thanks the following individuals and organizations for their assistance in assembling the panel: Warwick Ball, Nasser Rabbat and the Aga Khan Program of MIT; Debbie Hess Norris, Mario Santana Quintaro, Francesco Bandarin, Claudio Cimino, Mike Turner and colleagues at One World Heritage; Mineru Inaba and the Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University; UNESCO offices in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Event Organizers are Murray Fraser, Stephen Gage, Max Sternberg, and Vimalin Rujivacharakul.