Event / SOAS

Stealing from the Saracens: How Islamic Architecture shaped Europe, with Diana Darke

8 Dec 2020 – 17.30 - 19.00

Stealing from the Saracens: How Islamic Architecture shaped Europe uncovers a long yet often overlooked history of architectural ‘borrowing’, revealing the Arab and Islamic roots of Europe’s architectural heritage. Ideas and styles are traced as they passed from vibrant Middle Eastern centres like Damascus, Baghdad and Cairo, entering Europe via gateways like Muslim Spain, Sicily and Venice through the movement of pilgrims, bishops, merchants and medieval Crusaders. It is a rich tale of cultural exchange, shedding new light on the backstory of some of Europe’s iconic landmarks.

Described by The Guardian as “exhilarating and meticulously researched”, the book has created something of a stir, roundly attacked on social media by alt-right groups for whom European architecture represents ‘the pinnacle of civilisation’.  It sold out on day one and has been reprinted.

Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, gave it his endorsement: ‘As exhilarating as it is learned, this splendidly illustrated book shows how our cultures – including our religious cultures – interact and interweave in ways that challenge all kinds of assumptions we might make about our history. By studying our past, Darke poses essential questions about the possibility of a shared and humane civilisation in the future.’

This webinar will take place online via Zoom. After registering, a separate Zoom registration link will be emailed to you closer to the date of the webinar.

* The webinar will also be live-streamed on our Facebook page for those that are unable to participate via Zoom.

Chair: Dina Matar (SOAS)

Organiser: SOAS Middle East Institute

Contact email: [email protected]

Stealing from the Saracens
How Islamic Architecture Shaped Europe