Diana Darke

My House in Damascus

(An Inside View of the Syrian Crisis)

What is happening in Syria and why? What does the rise of the black-bannered ISIS (Islamic State) mean for the region and for us?

Diana Darke’s illustrated talk offers insights beyond the usual media coverage on the realities of life inside Syria, why ISIS has chosen it as their headquarters and why some – both Muslim and non-Muslim – are attracted by its message.

Using the prism of her courtyard house in Damascus, bought ten years ago as a semi-derelict ruin, Diana takes us on a journey into the heart of Syrian society. She explores its many layers though the metaphor of the house, whose complex restoration led her to become deeply embedded in the culture.

With the house in use as a refuge for displaced friends since September 2012, her links with Syria are deep and ongoing. She has been back six times since the revolution began, most recently in December 2014 to retake the house from war profiteers.

Diana Darke graduated in Arabic from Oxford University and started her career working for the British Government’s General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham. She went on to specialise in the Middle East for over 30 years, living and working in a range of Arab countries as an Arabic translator and consultant for both public and private sectors. Along the way she authored 16 travel guides to the region, including Bradt’s Syria, Eastern Turkey and Oman. She is now recognised as a fully independent Middle East cultural expert, and has written for the BBC website, The Sunday Times, The Guardian and The Financial Times and has been a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent.

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