Saima Akhtar is an historian and architect by training and holds a PhD in Architecture from UC Berkeley. She joins the IPCH as postdoctoral associate for the Project Anqa. This project, named for the Arabic word for the Phoenix, and funded by Arcadia, is a program created to counter the devastating loss we are seeing of cultural heritage sites throughout the Middle East and Saharan Africa, most notably in Iraq and Syria. Anqa is a multi-partner project formed through the collaboration of CyArk, ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), and Yale University to deploy international teams and train local professionals in documenting at-risk heritage sites in 3D before they are destroyed or altered. The goal is to make the assembled documentation and information accessible and useful for scholars, peers, and the wider public with state-of-the-art tools.
Before coming to Yale, she was a fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien and the Institute for Cultural Inquiry in Berlin, where she conducted research on the relationship between the rise of Fordism and the urban/social planning of immigrants from the Middle East in Detroit at the turn of the twentieth century. Her work appears in publications including the International Journal of Islamic Architecture and the Journal of Urban History.