Dr Selena Wisnom

Lecturer in Assyriology at the University of Cambridge

Selena’s contribution to the ‘Eye on Heritage’ focuses on exploring relationships and crossover between the ancient and modern dynamics of storytelling and poetry in the region of Syria and Iraq.

Selena initially read Classics at the University of Oxford, before taking up graduate work in Assyriology. Her MPhil and DPhil (Oxford University) focused on Babylonian poetry. Selena’s PhD thesis interpreted literary allusions in three major Babylonian narrative poems: Anzû, Enūma Eliš, and Erra and Išum. Alongside research, Selena wrote a trilogy of plays set in ancient Assyria and subsequently held an AHRC Cultural Engagement Fellowship at The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), working to build links between theatres and the university.

Selena’s research centres on the languages, literature, and culture of ancient Iraq, with a particular emphasis on poetry and divination. She is also developing a new system for analysing Akkadian metre, which is not yet well understood.

Dr Omniya Abdel Barr

Barakat Trust Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Project Manager at Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation, Cairo.

Omniya Abdel Barr is an architect based in Cairo and London, specialising in cultural heritage conservation and documentation. Omniya’s work focuses on Islamic architecture in Egypt. She holds a PhD on Mamluk History from Provence University, Aix-Marseille, France (2015), an MSc in Conservation from the Raymond Lemaire Center at KUL, Leuven, Belgium (2004) and a BSc in Architecture from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Helwan University, Egypt (2000).

Omniya is currently the Barakat Trust Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum, leading the digitisation of K.A.C. Creswell’s archive in collaboration with the American University in Cairo, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and Harvard University. She is also the Project Manager of Rescuing the Mamluk Minbars of Cairo, a project funded by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund in partnership with DCMS and implemented by the Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation.

Sarajuddin Isar

PhD candidate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Sarajuddin Isar is a key contributor to the ‘Eye on Heritage’ projects in Afghanistan. He offers his extensive expertise in the arts and culture sector, as well as a broad understanding of the social, economic, and political realities of Afghanistan today.

Isar is originally from Badakhshan, northern Afghanistan, and is currently a PhD candidate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. His research focuses on the political economy of taxation and state-building in post Bonn Afghanistan. He is also a calligrapher and a professional oil and watercolour artist. He was the editor for Simorg – a trilingual fortnightly newspaper published by members of the Afghan diaspora in London.

Isar was the Chief of Staff of the Governor of the Central Bank in Kabul, and has worked in a series of organisations in Afghanistan, including USAID and UN/WFP, as well as international charities such as the Catholic Relief Services, Acted, Afghanaid and Oxfam. He also worked as a visiting scholar with the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) in Kabul, as well as with Oliver Wyman (Management Consultancy) and BBC Persian in London.

His interest in art and culture led to him to serve as volunteer trustee with three charity organisations in London: Paiwand, Afghan Action, and Transitions. These charities help asylums seekers, refugees, and migrants with the integration process in the United Kingdom.

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