Endangered Written Heritage in Conflict Zones
DIA-LOGOS – Ramon Llull and the ars combinatoria
Panel on libraries and text archives in conflict zones
Fri, March 16, 2018 6 pm CET

Unfortunately, the event has to be canceled for organizational reason 

On the occasion of the exhibition »DIA-LOGOS. Ramon Llull and the ars combinatoria«, a workshop takes place on March 16, 2018, at the Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG) Karlsruhe and the ZKM | Karlsruhe, elaborating on the question of institutional cooperation and support as well as further measures for securing such textual memory. The results will be discussed in public in the form of a panel at 6 pm, right before the exhibition opening, together with three to four invited experts from Lebanon, Mali, and Syria whose works focus on threatened manuscript collection.

Amongst the heavy collateral damage that devastating wars cause, the destruction of cultural world heritage belongs to the irreparable ones. Historical artefacts as carriers of knowledge become irretrievable and exist only as traces in their reproduction or reconstruction, in the best of cases. Due to their fragile materiality, countless manuscripts are especially under threat of damage and destruction. We are made aware of this through the substantially wider destruction taking part in Mali, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and in other parts of the world. The project deals with historical manuscripts that face destruction. Participants will come from the Maronite Archbishopric Library of Aleppo (Syria) as well as from Lebanon and Mali, amongst others. Through the combination of the workshop and panel discussion, anchored in the exhibition »DIA-LOGOS. Ramon Llull and the Ars combinatoria« at ZKM | Karlsruhe, the aim is to handle the theme effectively and publicly and to develop strategies for an intercultural-institutional collaboration.

In the framework of preparing for the exhibition, »DIA-LOGOS. Ramon Llull and the Ars combinatoria«, on the work and influence of Spanish academic Ramon Llull (1232–1316), the ZKM | Karlsruhe and HfG contacted the Maronite Archbishopric Library of Aleppo. In the midst of around 1600 manuscripts of the library is an Arabic translation of Llull’s work, »Ars Brevis«, which is to be shown as an artefact of knowledge migration within the exhibition. The Maronite Archbishopric Library of Aleppo, whose history reaches back to the 17th century, is one of the most significant libraries of the Middle East and one of the cultural centers of the Maronite Church. From 2012 to the the break-out of the war, Father ElieTobji completed the digitization of their inventory. Although a great part of Aleppo has now been badly damaged, the manuscript collection could be saved – Llull’s »Ars Brevis« with it. The idea for this project grew from Pater Tobji’s reports on the critical state of the library.

In conceiving and organising the project, ZKM and HfG are supported by Philippe Roisse, an expert on Arabic written heritage for UNESCO regarding the preservation of manuscripts in African libraries and beyond.


Organization / Institution
ZKM | Karlsruhe and HfG Karlsruhe