The Case of Syria and Iraq
Edited By Lorenzo Kamel
Chapter 4: Space, Time and People: How the Destruction of Mosul’s Heritage Is Reshaping Its People’s Future (Omar Mohammed)
Chapter 4: Space, Time and People: How the Destruction of Mosul’s Heritage Is Reshaping Its People’s Future
A man sets out to draw the world. As the years go by, he peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, instruments, stars, horses, and individuals. A short time before he dies, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the lineaments of his own face.
Borges (2004: 183)
How does an ethnographer [historian] write about violence [against the history of his own city]? How can he make sense of violent acts, for himself and for his readers, without compromising its sheer excess and its meaning-defying core? How can he remain a scholarly observer when the country of his birth is engulfed by terror?
These were the questions raised by Errol Valentine Daniel (1996) in his book Charred Lullabies. His words seemed meaningful to me while I was writing this chapter. It is almost impossible to make sense of the events that have occurred in Mosul in recent years, but I will nonetheless try to shed light on the history of violence against space and time.
For centuries, Mosul created and maintained a unique cultural identity. It has endured periods of bloodshed and extreme change in its structure, rule and architecture. Any other city may have given way to what might have been a completely new system and social fabric after...
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