Against Disappearance is a series presented by Shubbak in partnership with the Cultural Protection Fund which explores cultural heritage and contemporary culture.

An image of an installation by the artist Rand Abdul Jabbar depicting large cast frames of the profile of a minuet
An image of an installation by the artist Rand Abdul Jabbar depicting large cast frames of the profile of a minuet

Against Disappearance explores the complex relationship we have with cultural heritage and how protecting, preserving and interpreting it is essential for interrogating identities, developing understanding and imagining futures. Most importantly, when celebrating the riches of cultural heritage, we must also acknowledge the challenges it presents. 

The series was launched in 2021. Within two consecutive years, we supported and presented events that inspected a different aspect of contemporary practice around cultural heritage preservation.

In this section, you can explore the series of talks and events that were held as part of the Against Disappearance series. Through these events, Shubbak hosted and collaborated with an array of well-celebrated artists, experienced specialists, musicians, performing artists, architects, comic artists, food activists and cultural institutions from the Arab & SWANA region who all have worked on projects related to the preservation of cultural heritage through contemporary practices. 

The Cultural Protection Fund is led by the British Council in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

2022 Events

Against Disappearance events during the London Syrian Arts and Culture Festival

Our collaboration with the inaugural Syrian Arts and Culture Festival (SACF) featured four events as part of the Against Disappearance series. Each of these events inspected a different aspect of contemporary practice around cultural heritage preservation. From an interactive cookery workshop exploring food as an expression of social identity, to hosting two panels that brought together insightful discussions about institutional and grassroots initiatives to preserve diverse cultures and traditions of both ancient and present-day Syria. Our support culminated in an eclectic evening with the Syrian Cassette Archives, celebrating this dynamic initiative to research, preserve and share analogue music tapes from Syria’s abundant cassette era between the 1970s and 2010. abundant cassette era (the 1970s–2010).

A cook lifting the lid on a rice and aubergine dish

A Taste of Syria

A cooking workshop with the Syrian Sunflower. Throughout history, food has been an expression of social identify and an important marker of cultural memory. For Syrians, food has always been a reminder of their rich and diverse culture.
A view of a narrow street looking up to the sky

Looking Back to Move Forward

This events held at the Museum of London presented initiatives and projects they have been carrying out to protect and revive Syria’s heritage. Audiences heard from author and journalist Lina Sinjab, architect and artist Dr. Ammar Azzouz, co-founder of Qisetna Dima Mekdad, and leader of the London Syrian Ensemble, Louai Alhenawi. An especially commissioned short film featuring the Damascus-based Sandouk Al Hakaya was also screened.

Access to the Future

What role can institutions play in nurturing contemporary Syrian cultural and artistic production? A panel discussion featuring representatives from the Atassi Foundation, Ettijahat - Independent Culture and Coculture.
A white music cassette featuring Arabic and illustrations in pink and blue

Syrian Cassette Archive Showcase

a live music session, along with a panel discussion that presented the founders of the digital project the Syrian Cassette Archive. The event debuted their archive of Syria’s abundant cassette era between the 1970s and 2010.

2021 Events

Against Disappearance – Part 1

A close up image of the architectural detail of a building in Suakin

Against Disappearance | Talk 2 Stories of migration, trade and power

The second in a series of discussions about cultural heritage and contemporary culture. This talk is centred around the cultural context of African, Arab and European influences in Sudan and the Swahili coast through exploring the different legacies of cultural and commercial exchange.
photo collage artwork

Against Disappearance: Hidden Presence | Talk 3

This event is part of the Against Disappearance series : Hidden Presences, which took place during Shubbak Festival 2021. In this panel we explore fascinating examples of hidden heritage from Turkey, Egypt and Iraq. The first panellist is Hera Büyüktasçiyan, a visual artist who talks about her collages displaying 100 works on paper – from etchings to photographs from ethnically and religiously diverse neighbourhoods in Turkey and India. Then we explore the work of Adham Hafez re-imagining the lively Cairo club scene at the turn of the 20th century. Moving to the work of Rashad Salim in protecting the endangered craft heritage of Iraq: ancient Mesopotamian boat building techniques. Finally, we learn more from Tamara Alattiya and Noorah Al-Gailani about the rich history of the port city of Basra in Iraq and their work to renew the city’s main museum, which has been hidden from the world and from its own citizens behind war and devastation in recent decades.
photo collage artwork

Hidden Presences

Part of the Against Disappearance series, this talk uncovers the hidden stories from city neighbourhoods, nightlife and cabaret cultures.
Photo montage

Cairo KitKat Club

A live, experimental, digital performance retelling the history of cabaret and clandestine performance through the story of Egypt's KitKat Club.
An image of the book cover for The Slave Yards by Najwa Bin Shatwan

Behind ‘The Slave Yards’

Sawad Hussain interviews Najwa Bin Shatwan about her novel The Slave Yards for the Against Disappearance series.

Against Disappearance is presented by the Cultural Protection Fund and Shubbak Festival. The Cultural Protection Fund is led by the British Council in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.