(Re)Calibrating Heritage: Reading Al-Jdeideh Post-Conflict Transformations in Aleppo, Syria

Ing. Diana Salahieh

Aleppo City is a recent example of how armed conflict ruptures generationally (re)articulated urban and cultural fabric. Apart from the city's physical destruction, the post-conflict spatial fragmentation reveals significantly altered socio-economic dynamics between its (former) communities’ absence and presence. With the end of active armed confrontation, Aleppo's Old City, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986, has witnessed a patchwork of non-orchestrated reconstruction and privately-funded efforts. However, these contemporary reconstruction activities generally lack a comprehensive, sustainable, recovery-oriented, and context-specific approach that captures the city’s post-conflict social, cultural and heritage significance (Affaki, 2021; Munawar & Symonds, 2022). Al-Jdeideh neighborhood, in the Old City of Aleppo, serves as an example where such individualistic and unplanned reconstruction attempts result in underrepresented values and needs of the locals, and an arguably skewed image of the area’s past socio-material symbol as a major hub of culture, commerce, heritage, and everyday life in Aleppo city. Consequently, Al-Jdeideh today remains in a state of conflict between different actors’ visions, and (un)heard Aleppians’ voices. Therefore, in order to stratify the post-war dynamics on a small-scale (i.e. Al-Jdeideh neighborhood) in the context of large-scale socio-economic transformations, this paper combines empirical data from on-site qualitative evaluations of Al-Jdeideh’s heavily destroyed urban structure with semi-structured informal interviews that render the local narratives and memories of Aleppians inside and outside of Syria. This approach allows for a dynamic interpretation of Al-Jdeideh's meaning, urban function, and cultural value for its former and present-day dwellers and users. Finally, the authors call for the urgent adoption of heritage-led regeneration and a human-centered urbanism approach to recover Al-Jdeideh’s image as a traditional and sustainable neighborhood in the Old City of Aleppo. This will enhance the significance and integration of the various local perceptions into a contextual post-conflict recovery approach that acknowledges the past, evaluates the present, and provides future guidelines that reflect the values of present-day and future communities of Al-Jdeideh and Aleppo city. Affaki, M. S. (2021). Reconstruction of Heritage and Spirit: Mending the Scars of Aleppo. In F. F. Arefian, J. Ryser, A. Hopkins, & J. Mackee (Eds.), Historic Cities in the Face of Disasters: Reconstruction, Recovery and Resilience of Societies (pp. 263–279). Springer International Publishing. Munawar & James Symonds (2022): Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Forced migration & Community Engagement: The Case of Aleppo, Syria, International Journal of Heritage Studies 28 (9): 1017-1035.

Za obsah této stránky zodpovídá: prof. Ing. arch. Petr Vorlík, Ph.D.