Defying the Odds: Research on the Social Value and Impact of Projects Aiming to Protect Syrian Intangible Cultural Heritage


In this research paper Researcher, Zeina Shahla presents an exploratory study on the social value of all projects aiming to protect intangible heritage in Syria, specifically those launched after 2011. It also explores the impact these projects have been able to achieve while highlighting the most important challenges they have faced, most of which are related to the peculiarities of working in Syria. The paper explains how these challenges have been tackled and, by doing so, provides a baseline for other heritage protection projects, whether in Syria or abroad.
Many cultural actors, both inside and outside Syria, had been drawn to protecting Syria’s rich and diverse heritage years before the conflict broke out. However, these efforts have intensified significantly with the increase in severity and frequency of the risks facing various elements of heritage as a result of the conflict and war. Many of these efforts have been able to make a tangible impact and to protect certain elements of Syria’s heritage in one way or another, while others have been less impactful. This is due to several reasons related to working conditions, the place of work and the projects’ nature, structure and team members.
The starting point of this paper was the desire to learn about the value and impact that the various projects and initiatives to protect Syrian intangible heritage have been able to achieve. As such, the paper presents a series of findings, practices and recommendations that will help develop these projects in the future. It will also contribute to the planning and implementation of any similar projects and the formulation of policies to protect Syrian intangible heritage.
While working on the paper, our team asked a select group of project organizers a series of questions about their methodologies for protecting Syrian intangible heritage, the impact they had achieved and what could be done to enhance this impact going forward. These projects are diverse in terms of their modus operandi, their size and the geographical area in which they operate. The questions were sent through an e-questionnaire to seven projects and initiatives operating inside Syria. In addition, we conducted four in-depth interviews with stakeholders in charge of projects supported by the Cultural Protection Fund, which has been managed by the British Council since 2016 in support of efforts to protect endangered cultural heritage.

 

To download and read the paper please click on the below file.

 


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