Embracing customization in post-conflict reconstruction

Zena Kamash (Royal Holloway)

Digital Classicist London seminar 2018

Friday June 1st at 16:30, in room G21A, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Livecast at Digital Classicist London YouTube channel.

I will reflect on what recent projects concerned with post-conflict reconstruction reveal about the tensions between standardization and customization. In spite of Roger Michel’s claims that the Institute of Digital Archaeology’s replica arch from Palmyra is ‘the most exact reproduction of any kind of classical structure ever made’ (quoted in Factum Arte 2017), the arch has come under fire from Factum Arte’s Adam Lowe for its lack of accuracy (Zalewski 2016). To what extent, however, is this focus, on both sides, on accuracy a ‘red herring’? I will propose, in contrast, that more attention needs to be given to why these reconstructions are being created, for whom and what roles they might be able to play in healing after conflict. I will suggest that we look to creative practice to find more therapeutic roles for reconstructions and that flexibility and customization may be more valuable in this specific context of post-conflict reparation than accuracy and standardization.


  • Factum Arte 2017 IDA Palmyra Arch copy http://www.factumfoundation.org/pag/236/IDA-span-span-Palmyra-span-span-Arch-copy
  • Zalewski, D 2016 The factory of fakes: how a workshop uses digital technology to craft perfect copies of imperiled art. The New Yorker, 28 November [online access at https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/11/28/the-factory-of-fakes]