SOAS University of London

Yemen’s Architectural Heritage in Peril

Trevor Marchand, Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology, SOAS

Date: 5 August 2017Time: 6:00 PM

Finishes: 5 August 2017Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: British Museum, London, WC1B 3DG Room: BP lecture theatre, Clore Centre for Education

Type of Event: Lecture

Yemen possesses one of the world’s finest treasure-troves of architecture, displaying a wondrous array of vernacular styles. Three of its ancient cities – Shibam, Ṣanaa and Zabid – are UNESCO World Heritage sites, and a number of other towns and building complexes around the country await inclusion on that list. Each urban setting possesses a distinct ‘sense of place’, resulting from a mixture of native ingenuity, available construction materials, social relations, religious practices and local histories. Conflict and resistance, too, have contributed significantly to the history of Yemeni building design, town planning and civil engineering. The current hydra-headed conflict, however, involving international adversaries divided along political and sectarian lines, poses a threat of unprecedented scale to the country’s architectural heritage. The lecture will take stock of the damage incurred as well as some of the current efforts to safeguard buildings and to sustain conservation programmes. It will also address factors - in addition to military conflict - that represent perhaps more enduring challenges to the survival of Yemen’s architecture and traditional building practices.

This event is also part of the Seminar for Arabian Studies Series at the British Museum.