Online Research Roundtable: Formulating Urban-, Eco-, Counter-Histories in Kuwait, with Akkaz Collective

Join us for an online roundtable with Kuwait-based Akkaz Collective who will introduce their research responding to the transformation of Akkaz Island and the Kuwait Bay. 

In the first half of the session, the Collective will present their three original publications as case studies navigating Kuwait’s unique urban history. They will share the methods they have formulated to counter these narratives through photography and experimental research woven with fiction. The three publications presented are: 

  • The Map is Not the Territory,’ which dissects the topics of environmental toxicity, counter histories, and dissident archiving on the neglected geographies dispersed across Kuwait Bay. Through it,  Akkaz Collective emphasises a counter-strategy—one that excavates and platforms the local histories of these peripheral locations.
  • Akkaz, an Anthology: A series of part-fiction, part-factual stories building on narrations of Akkaz from French archaeologist Jacqueline Gachet-Bizollon in the 1990s. 
  • Ala Taraf Lisan Al-Ard’, a visual documentation through the lens of Akkaz member Aziz Motawa capturing the last eight years of his treks along the Doha and Sulaibikhat coastal areas and their interwoven narratives of industry and toxicity.

The second half of the session will act as an open forum to discuss three prompts deriving from each of the books. The forum hopes to enable knowledge-exchange for audiences interested in Gulf histories, as well as collective efforts towards building regional archives and networks of independent knowledge sharing.  

The research roundtable will be presented and moderated by Akkaz Collective members: visual artist Aziz Motawa, architect Maryam Mohammed, and architect Sara AlZeer.

Online event. Free to attend, open to participants worldwide. Register here

In preparation for the roundtable, registered participants will receive brief reading material to gain familiarity with the Collective and discussion topics at hand.

Named after an island once existing off the coast of Kuwait, Akkaz Collective, est. 2022, is a test kitchen and research group focusing on the urban history of Kuwait. The collective engages with the country’s geography, ecology, and archeology. Akkaz Collective emphasises a multidisciplinary approach to the study of landscapes, highlighting unique and niche local histories. Their debut contributions have included printed publications, and photographic work presented at the Kuwait Pavilion in Venice Biennale of Architecture 2023, as well as conversations on Kuwait’s ecologies and coastal areas in collaboration with the Nieuwe Instituut (Rotterdam) and Art Jameel (Dubai) in light of COP28 held in 2023.

Aziz Motawa is a visual artist, writer, and researcher based between Kuwait and Bahrain working with the mediums of photography, video, installations, and sound. At the core of his practice, he examines the social and ecological implications of urban development.  He is also the director and co-founder of Akkaz Collective. 

Maryam Mohammad is an architect based in Kuwait, where she obtained her BArch from Kuwait University. She has worked as an architect in Kuwait and in the US. She is interested in the intersection of local history, design, and storytelling. 

Sara AlZeer is an architect with experience in Kuwait and the US. She has a B.Arch from Kuwait University. She is interested in design, research, visual storytelling, and publication design.