‘Young, Religious and Judged’: Challenging prejudice through Co-Curating Muslim heritage in North East of England

At a time when tensions in Europe around the role of Islam in society are high, many British Muslims are working hard to counter the negative stereotypes perpetuated by the media through collaborations with museums, libraries, archives and galleries, as well as community-led heritage initiatives. Traditional approaches to Muslim communities within the heritage sector have tended to adopt an ‘outreach’ model of community participation, whereby community groups are ‘invited in’ to the museum or archive to contribute to an exhibition or project determined by the organisation. Such approaches have been criticised for failing to address questions of who is doing the including and under what terms? What happens then, if heritage organisations and universities act as facilitators for community-led research, rather than as gatekeepers?

To find out more about how universities and heritage organisations can support the needs of Muslim communities ICCHS Research Associate Katherine Lloyd and Doctorial Researcher Ilmam Tharazi both attended the Everyday Muslim Symposium on Saturday 31st January at the Bishopgate Institute in London. The symposium brought together people from a range of sectors and backgrounds who share an interest in documenting and sharing Muslim heritage. The aim of the event was to facilitate dialogue and collaboration between individuals, groups and institutions working in the field of Muslim heritage.

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Inspiring the audience (including some proud parents) at the Everyday Muslim Symposium

Katherine co-presented a paper with the West End Young Digital Artists, a group of 12-17 year olds from Newcastle who want to challenge prejudice and encourage respect between people from different cultures and religions in the West End of Newcastle as part of their documentary project ‘Young, Religious and Judged’. Katherine has been supporting the group to undertake historical research at Discovery Museum and the West Newcastle Picture History Collection as part of her work on Co-Curate North East, a knowledge exchange project led by Newcastle University that supports communities to document and share their heritage online. The young people showcased their documentary and received a very positive response, with conference participants asking for advice about how they could support young people to undertake similar projects. They also connected with academic researchers who were able to provide them with more information about the history of Muslims in the UK, such as the Yemini community in South Shields. The group are now working on an exhibition of their work that will go in display in Destination Tyneside at Discovery Museum in March. We can’t wait to find out more about their research!

Researching the history of the Yemini community at Destination Tyneside, Discovery Museum

Researching the history of the Yemini community at Destination Tyneside, Discovery Museum

For more information:

WEYDA: Crowdfunding video: https://co-curate.ncl.ac.uk/resources/view/34950

Co-Curate North East: co-curate.ncl.ac.uk 

Everyday Muslim: everydaymuslim.org

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MeLa* Critical Archive pre-launch, Venice

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ICCHS researchers Chris Whitehead, Susannah Eckersley, Kat Lloyd and Rhiannon Mason have spent much of the last four years working on the MeLa* project, a large EC-funded international research programme on Museums in an Age of Migrations (http://www.mela-project.eu). Now entering its final stages, Chris recently participated in the pre-launch exhibition of the MeLa* Critical Archive, a digital platform aimed at bringing together, conveying and sharing the interdisciplinary investigations produced within project by the different partners from the UK, Spain, France, Denmark and Italy. The archive was not conceived as a mere repository of the research outcomes, but rather as a multipurpose dissemination tool drawing together and organizing the main insights by the researchers through a critical post-reflection; as a communicative project pointing out the complexity of the different approaches and findings, and illustrating the unitary yet multifarious cultural proposals. It is also a research instrument in itself, fostering questions, enhancing synergies, highlighting potentialities and opening further perspectives.

The archive includes a range of resources, from academic essays on key themes such as ‘belonging’ to photographic and film documentation, case studies of individual museums and museum objects, methodological approaches and notes and critiques of artistic interventions, political events, among other entries.

At the pre-launch, held at the Architecture Biennale in Venice, the MeLa* researchers were on hand to demonstrate how the archive works, to answer questions from the public and to be interviewed by appointment. Chris was in demand for interviews, as it turns out that a good number of postgraduate students from different countries are busy using the ideas and insights developed by the ICCHS MeLa* team!

The archive is intended to be developed and augmented iteratively, but will be available on the web in December, so keep watch for further announcements. Anyone interested in the MeLa* project can contact Chris at chris.whitehead@ncl.ac.uk.

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Slides from yesterday’s seminar with Dagny Stuedahl

Thank you to all who attended yesterday’s seminar with Dagny. Scroll down for the slides from her presentation. Any further questions or comments, please get in touch.

Dagny speaking at ICCHS 20.3.13

Dagny speaking at ICCHS 20.3.13

Dagny speaking at ICCHS 20.3.13

Dagny speaking at ICCHS 20.3.13

 

Dr. Dagny Stuedahl – 20 March 2013

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

1 – 2pm

Location: 18 Windsor Terrace, Chester Room
Speaker: Dagny Stuedahl, Visiting Scholar at ICCHS 2013, Researcher at InterMedia and Project Leader for Culture KICK Norway

Dr. Dagny Stuedahl is ethnologist and has been working on the intersection between humanities and design of digital technologies since 1995. She has been working with questions related to user participation in design processes, with a special focus on young visitors in museums and cultural heritage sites.

Dagny has been involved in several Norwegian projects integrating perspectives from media studies and cultural studies into museum design, such as Multimo (2004 – 2005) and RENAME (Research, Narrative and Mediation postdoc project 2004 – 2008). She is also currently involved in CONTACT (Communicating Organisations in Art and Cultural Heritage, 2009 – 2013 funded by the Norwegian Research Council), and in the Art-App project with 7 major art museums collaborating on developing an app for children and families.

From 2013, she will be employed in a professorial role related to a national research project on science museums and centers in Norway. Since 2005 she has worked with the Nordic conference forum NODEM (see www.nodem.org) and has been co-chairing the organization since 2010. Dagny is also heading Culture Kick, the Nordic network on design and digital cultural heritage, financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers; from 2011-2014, Culture Kick is working to gather models for collaboration and knowledge exchange between research and development, educational institutions, and research and innovation in the heritage sector. We are also delighted to have her as a visiting scholar at ICCHS in 2013.

In the first of the ICCHS research seminars for 2013, Dagny will be speaking about participatory approaches to design and development of digital technologies for museums and cultural heritage communication. Her presentation will cover different design approaches, methods and techniques related to several design case and experiments in which she has been involved. The first involved engaging schoolchildren with mobile camera phones during school visits to museums; as part of the project, based at the Vikingship Museum in Oslo, a temporary media center was established at the museum. The children were then involved in exhibition design at the university. The project also involved a longer-term ‘experimental zone’ at the Norwegian Maritime Museum, where further experimentation with online and social media took place.

Dagny will also be speaking about the project Akerselva Digitalt, a collaborative project between the Norwegian Museum of Science, Technology and Medicine and the Oslo Museum. This project concentrated on developing mobile services for communicating the city’s industrial history and explored a variety of participatory design methods with youth and community groups. Dagny will discuss the use of iPods and maps as cultural probes for place-making, the use of Instagram for engaging followers with archive photos, and will discuss the challenges faced when working with young people in a project such as this.