Co-production Networks for Community Heritage in Tanzania (CONCH)

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Archaeology

Abstract

CONCH is a research network that will bring together stakeholders in the built heritage of the East African, or Swahili, coast. It will create sustainable network for skills sharing and the co-production of knowledge between researchers, heritage professionals, and community groups.
This is a region with a rich tradition of vernacular architecture, centred on the 'stonetowns' that were founded along the Indian Ocean coast from the 11th century onwards. Many still thrive today, and the inhabitants are rightly proud of their heritage, which includes UNESCO World Heritage sites at Kilwa Kisiwani, Songo Mnara, Zanzibar, and Lamu. All are still home to Swahili groups, and the coast retains a distinctive culture based on urban living, Islam, coastal economies, and the Swahili language. Yet the Swahili coast is also economically underdeveloped, marginalised within the nation states of Kenya and Tanzania, themselves some of the poorest countries in the world. Tanzania is listed as one of the world's 'Least Developed Countries' by the ODA. Tourism features prominently in the economy, based on natural landscapes and wildlife, rather than on cultural heritage. Tourists are often unaware of the region's illustrious past, and a lack of education among residents makes it difficult for cultural heritage sites to be presented to their full potential.
This network will strive to counter some of these problems, raising awareness of Tanzania's cultural heritage and bringing local communities into that discussion. It will take advantage of existing heritage expertise in Tanzanian and Kenyan universities, to build a dialogue between scholars, heritage organisations, and communities. This will be achieved through developing a model of best practice at Pangani, a town on the northern Tanzanian coast with a rich built heritage of the later Swahili period, and an existing infrastructure of tourist facilities and community groups. A workshop that brings together scholars and non-academic stakeholders will discuss priorities and challenges for Tanzanian coastal heritage. This will be followed by a 'field school' at Pangani, training local scholars in techniques of mapping and documenting built spaces. Community groups, including schools, will be incorporated into this training, and encouraged to participate in finding out about the region's past. This approach is designed to foster co-production of knowledge, building on existing understandings and uses of the town's history. The field school will also offer training in the heritage of the region for local business owners such as hoteliers and small crafts producers, allowing them to build cultural heritage tourism through informed activities in the future. Community focus groups will tell their stories of the town's heritage, and these will be incorporated into a display at the existing cultural centre run by Uzikwasa, a local NGO. All activities, academic and community-led, will become part of a website and smartphone resources, to present Pangani's past to a wider audience of scholars and potential tourists.
Another key feature of the network will be the creation of channels of communication between different stakeholders in the region. All activities in Pangani will also be participated in by representatives from Kilwa, on the southern Tanzanian coast. Despite a phenomenal cultural resource at Kilwa, the infrastructure of heritage participation and tourist information is much less well developed there. A second field school will then bring the network to Kilwa, establishing modes of best practice and building a display for the Antiquities Office.
The network will therefore build a new participatory mode of engagement for cultural heritage in the region, bring together scholars and stakeholders in new and mutually beneficial ways, and create a model of democratic heritage practice that will be of interest to scholars worldwide

Planned Impact

The project's chief objective is to engage local communities in Pangani and Kilwa, Tanzania, in collectively identifying and protecting their shared cultural heritage, putting it to use for economic development and improved social wellbeing. This will also make a specific impact on heritage organisations who seek to work locally. We have therefore identified the following general and specific impact communities outside the academic community.

- Heritage professionals in Tanzanian and international organisations. The network will directly facilitate interaction between heritage practitioners from different sectors, knowledge sharing networks, researchers and local groups. The network involves participants from international (UNESCO, Sustainable Heritage Foundation), national (Antiquities Division Tanzania), and regional bodies (Uzikwasa, Kilwa Culture Centre, Songo Mnara village ruins committee), who will at the workshops agree a common set of priorities and framework for action. Aspects of direct training in informed conservation, community involvement, and particularly the translocation of practitioners between locations on the coast, will provide measurable benefits in developing sustainable practice across the region. They will help participants develop concrete ideas on how to balance the requirements of conservation and of research and understanding of the built heritage, how to involve local communities in its preservation, and how to develop the heritage resources of the eastern African coast for tourism and economic advantage. Crucially, this impact will not come only from direct training, but from cross-fertilisation between practitioners, local community groups, and researchers from both Europe and from within Tanzania.

- Residents and leadership of Pangani District (population 49,104) and Kilwa District (Masoko ward, population 13,601). The project is designed to empower and excite local communities with a sense of the value of their diverse yet shared heritage and its potential for socio-economic development. Uzikwasa's communications strategy will enable widespread, dynamic engagement across all sectors of society. Members of the community will also be part of the training, allowing them to understand the possibilities and challenges of their built heritage.

- Local business owners in Pangani and Kilwa. Network activities will include local business owners with an investment in tourist industries (hoteliers, local craftspeople, tour guides) as a strategy for maximising the economic benefits of regional heritage; this will have a direct effect on the ways that heritage is valued and sustained locally.

- School teachers and children in Pangani and Kilwa. The network will produce resources for schools, allowing the teaching of genuinely local histories in classrooms. This is a sustainable way of creating interest and value in local heritage, as well as involving children and schools actively in understanding the sites. Children will also be encouraged to contribute to visitor centres and ongoing digital resources.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description This grant is for a network, exploring ways that we can build understandings of Tanzanian coastal heritage through engagement with non-academic audiences. As part of two 'heritage field schools', a team of experts from the UK and from University of Dar es Salaam have been working with local NGOs, schools and community groups to explore how best heritage can be preserved, understood and presented in ways that are valuable locally. The result of these conversations has been a reconfirmation of the importance of built heritage as a source of pride and a focus for heritage activity.
There have been two locations for this work. In 2018, a group went to Pangani, Tanzania, and worked with a team from a local NGO, Uzikwasa. This team explored the types of heritage that people were interested in and how it could contribute to their sense of local identity. In particular, we worked towards displays and information at the Pangarithi Heritage Centre. In 2019, a second field school was conducted in Kilwa, providing training in methods of standing building recording for local antiquities staff and students from UDSM. The team also worked with different local stakeholders - community members, tour guides and professional heritage managers - to explore what the heritage meant to them. This process guided the production of tour guide brochures to the sites of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara, which contained the information that local groups valued and wanted passed on.
Exploitation Route The work done by the network has established a network of interested parties and groups of stakeholders, as well as exploring their priorities. This is an important set of data for future, targeted, interventions to be taken up by other researchers or by members of the project team in the future.
Sectors Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL https://www.conchproject.org/
 
Description The research from this network has contributed to several impact projects, two of which are in process and one will be the subject of a future funding application: 1. Background research on community priorities in Pangani led to the development of an educational programme aimed at developing capacity in local schools for heritage teaching. This has now been funded via a University of Cambridge impact development fund. 2. The focus groups in Kilwa led to the creation of a series of brochures in English and Swahili, which are a guide to the sites of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara and relay information that is important to the various stakeholders. These are now used at the Kilwa Tourist office, on the islands, and y the Antiquities Office. 3. Plans are being put in place for the production of a children's book about the site of Kilwa, in response to information from the Kilwa focus groups. This will be the subject of a further funding application.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description MOU with University of Dar es Salaam 
Organisation University of Dar es Salaam
Country Tanzania, United Republic of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Department of Archaeology at York signed an MOU with the Department of Archaeology at University of Dar es Salaam, covering collaboration on research projects on marine cultural heritage.
Collaborator Contribution Intellectual input.
Impact Mutual support for research and grant applications
Start Year 2018
 
Description Community focus groups Kilwa 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A series of focus groups in Kilwa region explored the ways that local groups viewed and valued their heritage. The focus groups were led by students from the University of dar es Salaam, after receiving training in qualitative research techniques. The groups were then used to inform the next stage of dissemination activity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.conchproject.org/research/mjadala-wa-kikundi-katika-blogu-community-sensitive-interpreta...
 
Description Conservation recording/photogrammetry training 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Training was provided in methods of recording standing buildings for heritage conservation. This was done by hand and using photogrammetry and 3D modelling Training and ongoing support was given to postgraduate students in heritage from the University of Dar es Salaam, as well as to professionals and practitioners in the Kilwa Antiquities office.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.conchproject.org/research/kurekodi-majengo-building-recording-kilwa-2019
 
Description Heritage and community workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact A workshop hosted at the University of Dar es Salaam engaged colleagues working at NGOs, practitioners from across the eastern African region, and students in a conversation about best practice in community heritage.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Pangani radio programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A radio programme based on the expertise and activities of project members was recorded and broadcast during project activities in July 2018. This was based around a 'walk-about', exploring Pangani's built heritage with network member Dr Dav Smith, a buildings archaeologist. It then contained a series of interviews with Pangani residents talking about what the heritage meant to them. The radio station reported on feedback to the show, with residents suggesting they had not previously thought about the built environment in this way.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Project website and blogs 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The project website is an interactive forum, with blogs focused on project activities as well as those written by collaborators and participants. It links with a social media presence, allowing a general public to engage with the project aims and activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
URL https://www.conchproject.org/
 
Description Social media training 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Social media training conducted for 8 members of Kilwa Tourist Office, to enhance their online presence and empower future engagement. Since then, their Facebook friend list has grown from 8 to 130+ and they continue to post and to receive feedback from the public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019