Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 18:00 to 20:00
The British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AH

What can antiquity, history, and heritage contribute to rebuilding lives and livelihoods shattered by decades of war and terror in the Middle East?

The AHRC GCRF-funded Nahrein Network (2017-21), based at University College London, the Ashmolean Museum Oxford, and the University of Kurdistan Hewler (Erbil), aims to provide viable answers to this pressing question through collaborative research and reflective practice. Its partners include the Universities of Baghdad and Mosul, Basrah Museum, and UNESCO Iraq, as well as BISI, the Council for British Research in the Levant, the British Institute at Ankara, and the Iran Heritage Fund. 

In this talk, Professor Eleanor Robson will outline the five major aims of the Network, from better understanding the current situation to delivering real improvements in the prospects of people in Iraq. Professor Robson will also explain the operation of its Visiting Scholars scheme and the Grants Fund programmes, which are open to applicants until 2020, and will also reflect on the challenges of working at the intersection of aid and research and ask how the intellectual heritage of the ancient Near East can be reclaimed as local as well as international property. 

Eleanor Robson is a Professor of Ancient Middle Eastern History at University College London, with a particular focus on Iraq. Eleanor's research has three main focal points: 

  • the social and political contexts of knowledge production in the cuneiform culture of ancient Iraq, five to two thousand years ago; 
  • the construction of knowledge about ancient Iraq in Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East over the past two centuries; 
  • and use of open, standards-based online resources for democratising access to knowledge about the ancient Middle East. 

With Dr. Anwar Anaid (University of Kurdistan Hewler) and Dr. Paul Collins (Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford) she runs the AHRC-funded Nahrein Network: New Ancient History Research for Education in Iraq and its Neighbours. Working with multiple academic and non-academic partners, it aims to significantly develop the capacity of Middle Eastern universities, museums, archives and cultural heritage sites to foster cultural and economic growth in the region.