Thursday marked the 256th anniversary of the day the British Museum first opened its doors to the public. In 1759, the museum was the first of its kind: a national institution free and open to the public and which aimed to showcase the variety and depth of lived human experience. With artefacts from across the globe, and strange and exotic pieces from British colonies in Asia and the Middle East, it provided visitors with a mosaic of history and cultures – a microcosm reflective of British colonial power. Today, the museum hosts one of the largest collections of antiquities in the world, and has even recently expanded its remit to cover contemporary art from the Middle East.
Colonialism and archaeology: The legacy lives on
- 17 January 2015
- Emanuela Degli Esposti
Theft and Creativity - Archives of a Fragmented Nation
- 15 November 2014
- Rich Wiles
Palestine's story is one of displacement and dispossession - a people who have been dispersed to all corners of the world, and a homeland that has been methodically carved up by settler-colonialism. Today's fragmented geography - of people as well as places - sees pieces of the collective national jigsaw scattered far from their true homes. The archiving of the Palestinian story in all its intricacies thus presents a huge challenge.
Souad Massi on rock music, terrorism and bringing people together with music
- 13 November 2014
- Amelia Smith
"I like folk music, and country music, too. In fact, I was listening to Kenny Rogers just recently. I know a lot of people smile when they hear me say that," Souad Massi tells me. Algeria, where the engineer turned singer Massi is from, is not so often associated with European and American melodies. Still, Massi lists Stevie Wonder, Texas, Led Zeppelin and Aretha Franklin among her heroes. "I like gentle music," she adds, a sentiment that is reflected in her personality.
Sombre amongst the Litterati
- 07 November 2014
- Dr Jamil Sherif
The Palestine Book Awards ceremony organised by Middle East Monitor on 6 November in Paddington took place on an evening of grim news emerging from Jerusalem, with Al-Aqsa under threat from the Temple Mount movement, large scale arrests of Palestinian youths, talk of Israel imposing a military regime on the city and the incident of van ramming. The Palestinian ambassador to London, Manuel Hassassian, set the tone with his forebodings: 'We are hearing that a law is going to be passed in Knesset to divide Al-Aqsa Mosque... the situation is precarious and [leading to] a religious war... a third Intifada is coming'.
Theatre review: Oh My Sweet Land
- 30 April 2014
- Raya Al-Jadir
Oh My Sweet Land is a play set in a kitchen that explores the Syrian revolution turned civil war through the hour long narration of Syrian refugees' stories via the passionate yet name-less half German, half Syrian woman, who is busy making the traditional Syrian dish of Kubah while informing the audience how she met all these refugees and become aware of their plight.