About this project

The Idea:

That morning, for the third time in two years I was interviewed to testify against war criminals in Syria. The sun was shy, the air was thin and the memory was heavy. And despite the fact the interrogators were kind and hospitable, my memory started to experience those deficits. There were black holes. And the holes were painful. It hurts not to remember your own pain. There is an expanded literature about trauma events and memory. And there are different approaches on the politics of remembering and forgetting in relation to litigation and peace. From personal and academic perspectives I look at my story and the stories of millions of Syrians from that wide window of memory.

Maybe this is a good reason to create this project. Both the project technical title ‘ The Memories Map’ and the emotional one ‘ YaMaKan’ aims at investing nostalgia to advocate the principles of justice and liberty. However, before this and that, the project aims to preserve the human emotional resources of millions of Syrians and protect those resources from drought and loss.

This mapping project is intended to act as a memoire. A personal but also a collective registry of life. The life that I -and many- had lived in fear and love. The memory of a stranger. It is a short documentary. It is a memory clothesline hung up in the air so that birds can come and swing.

The Name:

Ya Ma Kan can be read in two ways. Ya Ma Kan or Ya Makan. 

The First Scenario: gives a sense of narrative. In the Arabic language, most of the stories narrated to children start with a statement ‘Kan Ya Ma Kan’ which means ‘once upon time’. The means we are focusing on the temporal element of the narration. It triggers nostalgic sensations but also a sense of anticipation and engagement. As time is crucial element when we talk about life but more critically when discussing conflict and trauma, emphasising time seemed to be a good possibility.

The Second Scenario: Ya Makan is calling for the place. It is humanizing the place and calling ‘it’. Ya is used as an instrument of calling. Makan is place. This option emphasize the space factor of the narrative. It seems relevant when we are talking about plotting memories on a map. 


  • At YaMaKan we believe in the power of discursive practices and the different forms of storytelling as narrative manifestations in shapping history.
  • We believe this power should be more in-focus and demand more conscious and responsible attention in conflict and war times.
  • We also believe in the role information technologies can play in the processes of discursive production and distribution.
  • Within the very same sense we believe a massive participatory approach by citizens-facilitated by information technologies- to express beliefs, emotions and ideas about conflict can proatively and positively contribute to mediate conflict and facilitate peace making processes and sub-processes.

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