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4 May 2022 - 4 May 2022

4:00PM - 5:00PM


  • Free

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Fragile heritage ecologies explore how heritage is made, lost, sustained and adapted in landscapes that are shifting and transforming due to the effects of climate change.

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A vernacular structure at Kharmang Valley, Baltistan. Photograph by Zahra Hussain

The video of this talk will be made available on the IMEMS YouTube channel at the given time.

About the talk

We try to understand how local communities experience change and loss of heritage in multiple ways; the material loss of vernacular homes, significant places within the landscape and the immaterial loss of practices of everyday life, cultural practices and engagement with the landscape. This project specifically focuses on mountain communities settled in Hindukush-Himalaya mountain region that are important sites historically and culturally. Traces of the ancient Silk Road connecting China to South Asia can be spotted in these mountains, where exchanges of material and immaterial cultures, leaving legacies in language, forts, inscriptions, practices and ideas, show the affinities with the greater Karakoram region connecting Afghanistan in the West, Khirgiz and Uirgus in the North and, Baltistan and Himalayas in the East. Both the natural and cultural landscape are historically unstable and in motion where the fragility of heritage is not only effected by the physical risk to the asset, but also determined by the forms of affiliation that local communities maintain with the heritage. This talk will highlight a case site from Northern Pakistan, and how local communities were engaged in the process of mapping and understanding fragile heritage in their localities.  

About the speaker 

Zahra Hussain is an Architect with DPhil in Cultural Geography. She leads the organisation Laajverd in Pakistan. She explores methods and strategies for mapping heritage landscapes. She has set up community heritage museums and developed a frame work for documenting at-risk heritages (tangible and intangible) in the Hindu Kush Himalaya mountain regions. Based on her eight-year long research, she has devised mountain architecture guidelines incorporating the local architectural pattern language in mountain areas of Pakistan. 

Further Reading  

  •  Caitlin DeSilvey & Rodney Harrison (2020) Anticipating loss: rethinking endangerment in heritage futures, International Journal of Heritage Studies, 26:1, 1-7, DOI: 10.1080/13527258.2019.1644530   
  •  Zahra Hussain (2021) ‘Drawing in’ other worlds: Addressing fragile heritage landscapes through cosmopolitical maps, Journal of Community Archaeology & Heritage, 8:2, 127-141, DOI: 10.1080/20518196.2021.1894765   
  •  Bartolini, Nadia, et al. “Fixing Naturecultures: Spatial and Temporal Strategies for Managing Heritage Transformation and Entanglement.” Heritage Futures: Comparative Approaches to Natural and Cultural Heritage Practices, UCL Press, 2020, pp. 375–95,