The cultural heritage of Mosul, one of Iraq’s ancient cities, was deliberately targeted and destroyed by the Islamic State (2014–17): however, heritage initiatives have recently emerged within Mosul, aimed at restoring its urban character and reviving its cosmopolitan spirit. Heritage restoration projects invariably stir debates over timing, funding, and local consultation, as well as their potential to contribute to post-war social cohesion and communal healing.

This article argues that in post-conflict settings heritage restoration is always a charged, delicate process, where shared cultural foundations within historically diverse city neighbourhoods can be used to create new realities. Based on 50 in-depth interviews with a diverse section of Moslawi society and site observations from Mosul (2022–23), the article explores local perspectives and the ongoing negotiation of heritage restoration, arguing that improved economic infrastructure for residents should be balanced against the enduring cultural importance of historical integrity, communal consultation, and locally-led expertise. Amidst conflicting communal perceptions of large-scale internationally funded reconstruction projects, the article highlights the potential for grassroots heritage initiatives to contribute to social cohesion and communal re-integration within everyday cultural heritage spaces. The paper focuses on three less examined but locally championed Moslawi heritage sites—the souqs, Qila’yat district, and heritage homes – as case studies examining this potential for social recovery through economic development, cultural exchange, and everyday co-existence.

To read the full article, please visit the Journal of Social Archaeology, where this article was originally published.