Stealing from the Saracens w/ Diana Darke

31 Mar 2022 – 19:00 BST
Yunus Emre Institute London
Yunus Emre Enstitüsü - London
10 Maple Street

Join Stealing from the Saracens author and the Middle East Cultural Expert Diana Darke for a talk about how Islamic architecture shaped Europe.The event moderated by architect Samie Iqbal Kayani will start with a talk by Diana and will be followed by a Q&A session and book signing.

About the book

Against a backdrop of Islamophobia, Europeans are increasingly airbrushing from history their cultural debt to the Muslim world. But this legacy lives on in some of Europe’s most recognisable buildings, from Notre-Dame Cathedral to the Houses of Parliament.

This beautifully illustrated book reveals the Arab and Islamic roots of Europe’s architectural heritage. Diana Darke traces ideas and styles from vibrant Middle Eastern centres like Damascus, Baghdad and Cairo, via Muslim Spain, Venice and Sicily into Europe. She describes how medieval crusaders, pilgrims and merchants encountered Arab Muslim culture on their way to the Holy Land; and explores more recent artistic interaction between Ottoman and Western cultures, including Sir Christopher Wren’s inspirations in the ‘Saracen’ style of Gothic architecture.

Recovering this long yet overlooked history of architectural ‘borrowing’, Stealing from the Saracens is a rich tale of cultural exchange, shedding new light on Europe’s greatest landmarks.

About the author

Diana Darke is an Arabist and cultural expert who has lived and worked in the Middle East for over thirty years. She is the author of The Merchant of Syria: A History of Survival and My House in Damascus: An Inside View of the Syrian Crisis.Frequently invited to speak at international events and media such as the BBC, PBS, TRT, Al-Jazeera and France24, her work on Syria has been published by the BBC website, The Sunday Times, The Guardian and The Financial Times. She is a Non-resident Scholar at Washington’s think-tank MEI (the Middle East Institute). She tweets as @dianadarke.

About the moderator

Samie Iqbal Kayani is the director at IK Architecture Ltd and a PhD candidate at the University of Liverpool’s Centre for the Study of Architecture and Cultural Heritage. He has worked on numerous culturally significant projects in the UK and abroad, including restoring the last historic structure inside the Grand Mosque of Makkah and recently designing plans for the only Grade I listed mosque in the UK. He is also Aziz Foundation Scholar for creating future leaders in communities.

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