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.
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!
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