24 Oct 2020

Local communities and heritage

Bringing specialists together to discuss practices of community engagement in Egypt and Sudan

On 24th October 2020, the Egypt Exploration Society partnered with the Place and the People Project to host an online workshop investigating ‘Practices of Community Engagement in Egypt and Sudan’.

The virtual audience had the opportunity to hear from seven case studies across the Nile Valley in northern Sudan and Egypt. Speakers and topics included:

  • Communities and archaeologists at Amarna: Reflections on the opportunities and challenges of new collaborations, Dr Gemma Tully and Dr Anna Stevens
  • Culture heritage as sustainable development: A case-study from the Asyut region (Middle Egypt), Dr Ilona Regulski
  • The Mograt Island Collaborative Project: Dialogues in the Making, Dr Claudia Näser and Dr Gemma Tully
  • Working towards collaboration: a case study from Amara West, Sudan, Dr Tomomi Fushiya
  • "Learning by Doing”: Engaging with Local Communities through Heritage, Fatma Keshk

Each presenter brought their own experience and knowledge of the subject and offered some general guidance for future projects. Key techniques shared included the production of printed material and video content through community engagement exercises, and podcasts (see resources below).

A short video produced by local people from Shutb in Egypt. It is designed to create pride, ownership and a platform to express the value that they found in their own community. The film was produced by the British Museum Project which received funding from the British Council’s Newton Musharafa grants.

This inspirational discussion between projects provided much to think about and to reconsider ways in which heritage is meaningful to source communities. Particularly, it highlighted the need to involve local groups in the production of resources as well as helping to raise awareness of tangible and intangible heritage in these areas. On summarising her presentation, Dr Gemma Tully concluded by saying: “When looking to present the past, we need to start with the present and be aware of evolution and change within all audiences and be open and honest as to where challenges lie.” This is something that many of us working in the field must act upon.

The Egypt Exploration Society would like to extend its thanks to the speakers and especially to Fatma Keshk for organising and chairing the workshop.

Further resources

The Amarna Project

Life Under the Sun: https://en.blikvelduitgevers.nl/product-page/life-under-the-sun-an-egyptian-story-and-activity-book 

Ancient and Modern Egypt film: https://www.arch.cam.ac.uk/research/projects/current-projects/life-ancient-egypt-amarna-resources-schools/film-clips-ancient 

Film alone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHTVPZWIznM 

Site Management Plan: https://www.arch.cam.ac.uk/research/projects/current-projects/amarna-egyptian-archaeological-heritage/amarna-site-management 

Asyut Region

A tale of Shutb (English): https://www.britishmuseum.org/sites/default/files/2020-05/Story%20Eng%20-%20Online.pdf 

Mograt Island

Project wesite: www.mogratarchaeology.com 

Exploring attitudes towards the archaeological past: Two case studies from majority Muslim communities in the Nile valley, by C Naser: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1469605319867194 

Amara West

Amara West podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcjYzEbJnNc&t=317s 

Life in the Heart of Nubia: https://britishmuseumamarawestblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/amara-west-a-new-book-for-children/ 

The Place and the People Project

Project website: https://www.facebook.com/The-Place-and-the-People-2315808581791112 

News report: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/32/97/376378/Folk/Street-Smart/The-Place-and-the-People-Exploring-Egypts-intangib.aspx 

EOTalk: https://everydayorientalism.wordpress.com/2020/06/25/everyday-orientalism-talk-archaeology-and-heritage-based-work-in-egypt-by-fatma-keshk/