As part of the AUC Centennial Celebration the Rare Books and Special Collections Library organizes a lecture series focusing on aspects of Egyptian culture, history and arts. The purpose will be to present well-known, knowledgeable guest speakers whose research or interests can inform and inspire. The second lecture focuses on Athar Lina (Heritage is ours), which is aparticipatory conservation initiative that aims to establish modalities of citizen participation in heritage conservation based on an understanding of the monument as a resource not a burden. Run by Megawra-Built Environment Collective, Athar Lina has been active in al-Khalifa Street in Historic Cairo since 2012. So far Athar Lina has implemented the conservation of four mausolea dating from the 12th to the 14th century, is working on a fifth shrine and is about to start work on conserving a sixth building and converting it into a craft and design center. Athar Lina also runs a heritage summer school for al-Khalifa’s children to reconnect them to their heritage. Athar Lina has also explored the potential of heritage as a source of livelihood, promoting al-Khalifa as a destination for tourism and exploring ways of marketing and developing its crafts. In addition to urban interventions to improve the quality of public space and resolve issues of waste and rising groundwater, it is currently working on an urban conservation and management plan for al-Khalifa.
May al-Ibrashy is a licensed architectural engineer with 25 years of field experience in conservation and heritage management in Historic Cairo. She is currently founder and chair of Megawra-Built Environment Collective, a twin institution consisting of Egyptian NGO and consultancy working on issues of the built environment. She coordinates Athar Lina, an initiative run by Megawra-BEC in partnership with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and Cairo Governorate that conserves the heritage of al-Khalifa in Historic Cairo and conceives of it as a driver for community development. She is also adjunct lecturer of architecture at the American University in Cairo.