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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T003480/1
Title: Cities of Roots: Indigenous knowledge, gender and digital preservation in African and Arabic Cultures
Principal Investigator: Lazem, Dr S
Other Investigators:
Clarke, Dr R E
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Research
Organisation: City of Sci Res and Tech Applications
Scheme: UKRI
Starts: 24 January 2020 Ends: 23 January 2022 Value (£): 143,783
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Cultural Studies Curriculum areas
Heritage Management Multimedia
Recreation/Tourism Geography
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
28 Mar 2019 GCRF GE Networks Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The Cities of Roots Network aims to address intersecting sustainable development challenges associated with urban growth and loss of indigenous knowledge in Egypt and Palestine by fostering new interdisciplinary perspectives. This comes at a time when technology and smart urbanisation is increasingly promoted in these cultures adding societal pressures on indigenous communities to assimilate into urban life. Network members will explore the use of digital technology for preserving indigenous knowledge currently at risk of loss in African and Arabic cultures. The project brings together interdisciplinary and transnational expertise from research teams in the UK, Germany, Namibia, Egypt and Palestine, working with communities across Namibia, Morocco, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Iraq. Through these efforts we will contribute to the GCRF portfolio challenge theme Cities and Sustainable Infrastructure.

Protection of indigenous knowledge is challenged by the lack of interdisciplinary perspectives and methods. There is a lack of infrastructure to support communities in preservation efforts and current heritage collections do not place significant emphasis on indigenous knowledge and intangible heritage as worthy of preservation in comparison to artefacts and architectural antiquities in many African and Arabic cultures. Lack of awareness of cultural specificity and unique aspects of indigenous life can also mean service provision within urban areas can perpetuate exclusion or further erode cultural practices. The Network will foster interdisciplinary dialogues among researchers, communities, policy makers, and INGOs, to highlight the risks associated with loss of cultural heritage and diminished social cohesion in indigenous communities. In addition the Network will suggest opportunities for technologies to support sustainable development efforts through preserving and sharing community heritage, especially women's indigenous knowledge across generations. In doing so, the Network will contribute to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) creating inclusive cities (SDG11), gender equality and empowerment of women (SDG5), quality education (SDG4), and fostering global partnership that are based on a common values (SDG 17).

The Network will hold eight events across Egypt, Palestine, and UK. Through workshops we will build capacity with Bedouin communities, researchers and practitioners particularly among established and early career researchers and PhD students in UK, European, Middle Eastern and African countries. We will also map how local governments, older and young generations of families are responding to urban modernisation and technology use in the region through identifying and analysing interdisciplinary literatures and case studies within research, policy and practice. We will further develop ideas for exemplar future projects through an Interdisciplinary Summer School and share insights with a range of stakeholders.

Network events will raise local awareness and appreciation of the challenges faced by indigenous communities for preserving their heritage, contributing to a future research and policy agenda to include indigenous communities in sustainable development initiatives. Outputs from Network activities (visual road maps, case studies, policy briefings) will be discussed in major Stakeholder Engagement Events in Egypt, UK and Palestine, where Network members will discuss findings with policy makers, community organisations, students and academics. Resources developed will be available in English and Arabic on the project website and social media channels and print resources will be distributed to community organisations and NGOs via Network members.

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