Universiteit Leiden

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Academic Unfreedom: The case of Syria under Bashar al-Assad

Tuesday 25 May 2021
The destruction of the site of Palmyra, Syria

Censorship of those who study the past comes in many different forms. Of these forms political murder is the worst.

The year 2020 saw the killing of four historians, Sergei Koltyrin (1953-2020), Hisham al-Hashimi (1973-2020), Campo Elías Galindo Álvarez (1951-2020), Samuel Paty (1973-2020), and one singer of historical songs, Hachalu Hundessa (1986-2020).
This, and the cases of arbitrary arrests and detention (e.g. Karelian historian Yuri Dmitriev (1956-)), threats (e.g. Peruvian archaeologist Ruth Shady (1946-)), and countless other methods, attest to the fact that the freedom to study the past should never be taken for granted!

In this unique online lecture, organized by the Leiden Faculty of Archaeology in cooperation with Scholars at Risk, a Syrian archaeologist who has witnessed the curtailing of academic freedom under the totalitarian regime of Bashar al-Assad will share his experience.

About the lecturer

The scholar of archaeology and heritage studies has many years of experience researching and teaching at the university level in several European countries. He has also held numerous leadership positions in his homeland of Syria. Most recently, he was a guest lecturer at a university in Sweden, contributing expertise on archaeology and historical studies. His research focuses on Middle Eastern archaeology, material culture and burials during the Bronze Age, the impact of civil wars on the patrimony, armed conflict heritage and using heritage for peace-building, and the misuse of heritage for political ends, radicalism and illicit trafficking in antiquities.

Safety measures

Because of security concerns, we ask all interested parties to register via this form. Shortly before the lecture you will receive a link to the online video platform where the lecture will take place.

More information

Scholars at Risk is an international network of institutions and individuals whose mission it is to protect scholars and promote academic freedom This lecture is organized as part of the Scholars at Risk Virtual Speaker Series. See the website of Scholars at Risk for more information.

The Network of Concerned Historians wants to provide a bridge between international human rights organizations campaigning for censored or persecuted historians (and other concerned with the past), and the global community of historians, by supporting actions, sharing information and doing research in the domain where history and human rights intersect. The information used for this page can be found in the 2020 Annual Report and the 2021 Annual Report, forthcoming in the summer 2021.

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