Reimagining Tanzania's Townscape Heritage

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bradford
Department Name: Sch of Life Sciences


At its core our proposal will explore the role of creativity (film, music, soundscapes, visual arts, craft traditions) inspired by cultural assets (townscape heritage, coastal landscape setting and links to UNESCO World Heritage in mainland Tanzania, Zanzibar and the UK). This enhances and magnifies the impact of our AHRC 'Fragmented Heritage/ Curious Travellers' methodology that combines photographic imagery (crowd-sourced/ web-scraped and new imagery) together with mobile mapping data to digitally document cultural heritage sites in context, as an approach that anticipates change, given diverse challenges that place heritage at risk.

The project will draw from Bagamoyo's rich heritage and cultural traditions, given Bagamoyo's strategic coastal location, with trading links across the Indian Ocean, past, present and future - including its boat-building traditions, role with salt production and the spice trade; the slave and ivory trade; its colonial past and linkage both with Christianity and Islam - the entry of Christianity into the interior; and with historical figures including Dr Livingstone whose body was brought to Bagamoyo upon his death in Malawi.

Digital heritage researchers and creative researchers at Bradford and St Andrews will co-create artistic works with heritage and creative researchers at the University of Dar-es-Salaam and artists at TaSUBa (Bagamoyo's Arts and Cultural Institute - Taasisi ya Sanaa na Utamaduni Bagamoyo). Training will be given in digital methods and the output will include an entry to the film shorts category at the Zanzibar International Film Festival; and a real-time portal/art installation to be showcased at the vibrant Bagamoyo Arts Festival that will link places within Tanzania (Bagamoyo on Mainland and Zanzibar Stone Towns) and between Tanzania, England and Scotland as an innovative concept and alternate form of digital twinning 'Windows Across the Oceans'. The innovative digital heritage research will enhance inclusive engagement with the creative and cultural economy in Tanzania supporting cultural heritage tourism and cultural resource management. The installations will be used to highlight the universal value of world heritage to a global audience, the importance of conserving cultural heritage settings (townscape heritage, maritime heritage) to both local people and government in Tanzania and the linked understanding and meaning that comes from oral histories, craft traditions and other rich narratives.

The project facilitates knowledge exchange and capacity building throughout, crucially involving TZ researchers to spend time in the UK, developing digital heritage skills to work with the Bagamoyo data, with additional financial support/ value-added from Erasmus+ funded activity As a result , with researchers from UDSM we will co-create a digital twin for the Historic City of Bagamoyo (on the UNESCO tentative world heritage list) and as part of this, generate Google StreetView-ready content to raise visibility for townscape heritage and to support local businesses.

The digital twin will serve as a framework to unite Bagamoyo's tangible heritage (buildings, port and boat-building tradition, landscapes/ seascapes), and intangible narratives (stories, songs, cultural practices and craft knowledge) to help to document past and present way of life. The new, vibrant digital assets that are created through this project will 1) support local tour guides (helping to increase visibility as a tourism destination; and by creating digital resources that can enhance the tourism experience); 2) promote global citizenship and foster good community relations (helping to educate people, develop place-making and enhance civic pride); 3) develop use of IT through methods that support digital discovery (hidden heritage); 4) improve accessibility (equality, diversity and inclusion); 5) provide methods for long term monitoring of change to sites by heritage guardians.


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