This book examines in depth the conservation history of a pearl of Islamic built heritage, the historic city of Cairo, to offer guidelines for cultural heritage professionals and students. The author, Hossam Mahdy, a former ICCROM fellow, presents an alternative view of the relationship between Islam and heritage, asserting that is a tenet of every Muslim’s faith and outlook to hold a deep respect for heritage. The author’s nuanced conservation history of Cairo traces Western and Islamic views that over time have given rise to decision-making frameworks with varying effects on the local communities. The book offers approaches to understanding the complex reality in Islamic cities today and the different layers of meanings, factors and stakeholders, explaining why measures that have successfully worked in some contexts do not work in Cairo and other Islamic cities. In support of this, he applies a range of conservation theories to resolve the hypothetical conservation of a medieval Islamic gate structure in a modern city setting. The exercise is designed to help conservation specialists think through the possibilities for sites, in full awareness of the cultural and other assumptions that underlie those decisions.
Series: Selected Readings from ICCROM-ATHAR Number 3