Project Type: PhD Project
Project Duration : 3 Years
Funding: Nottingham Trent University
The (re)Inscription of Memory: Valuing Informal Practices, Spatial Memory and Local Narratives Within the Physical Recovery of Mosul’s Old Town.
Between the systematic wars on Mosul, the political corruption, the urban and architectural devastation and the politicized sectarian segregation of its people, there’s an urgent need for a comprehensive reconstruction process. After security has been more or less restored within Mosul, the old city centre still suffers from a lack of basic infrastructure and services. With no governmental plan for reconstruction, the identity of the historic city is under the threat of lying beneath the remains of destructed structures. The governmental and international negligence forced the locals to independently attempt to recover, which escalated the emergence of sporadic de facto squatter settlements. More importantly, there is a sentiment of constant apprehension and alienation among the traumatized Mosuli people, let down by their government and isolated because of their marginalized sectarian orientation. The trauma of Mosul within the last two decades is unprecedented; followed by the 2003 Iraqi-American war, the ISIS invasion of the city, a decade later, left humanitarian scars, in the form of traumatized women and children, thousands of casualties, babies as products of sexual assault, and over half a million of Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP’s). These humanitarian issues are more significant and permanent than mere architectural and urban destruction. Nevertheless, the physical destruction was unprecedented, with more than 50,000 homes to rebuild, wiped-out heritage, and destroyed infrastructure, the city has a long road to recovery, potentially independently.
Within the chaotic humanitarian and physical state of Mosul’s Old Town, are individual memories of spatial practices, daily activities and cultural acts, as well as collective perceptions of their own culture, history, and identity. These memories, that defined the spirit of the city in its pre-war settings, have transformed to memories and narratives of fear, displacement and loss. The transformation of the nature of these memories amplifies the significance of including the people within the reconstruction process as the foundation stone on which the reconstruction process of the Old town should take place, as they anchor the existence of the human aspect and ensure its continuity, within the potentially renewed urban tissue of the city of Mosul. Therefore, this thesis prioritizes the people of Mosul as the backbone of the reconstruction, with their opinions and perceptions as building blocks for reviving the spirit of Mosul.