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Msheireb Museums and UCL Qatar presents Community Archives Symposium

May 6, 2018

The participants discuss the relevance of community archives to document the heritage of communities in the region

 Doha, Qatar, 5thMay 2018:

Msheireb Museums, the new cultural destination at Msheireb Downtown, hosted today the ‘Community Archives Symposium’ by UCL Qatar.

The symposium organized by the UCL Qatar’s Master in Library and Information Science programme, gathered scholars, archivists, and community members at Bin Jelmood House, where they discussedthe relevance of community archives to document the heritage of communities in the region. The participants also raised questions on the future of this community-based form of independent documentation in the region.

Aiming to examine the possibilities for and signs of community archives developing in the MENA region, community archives are “collections of materials gathered primarily by members of a given community” to document the commonalities of the group’s identity. They diversify our understanding of the past and help to address omissions in the historical record.

Mr. Hafiz Ali, Msheireb Museums Director said: “Msheireb Museums is pleased to host this cultural and community event that documents and preserves our history. We stay committed to our community through these collaborations with educational institutions, and maintain our identity for the next generations. Thissymposiumis one of many we host at the museums, we would like to thank UCL Qatar for this collaboration and a continued prosperous partnership.”

Following keynote remarks from Director Hafiz Ali, Msheireb Museums and Dr Andrew Flynn, UCL London, UK, the symposium included four main panels that discussed related topics. The first panel, ‘Documenting Everyday Life’, talked about their experiences in Palestine and the Arab World, as well as archiving Islamic history in UK. Additionally, Aisha Ali Al Kuwari and Mohammed AlYousuf, Msheireb Museums, experience in Oral History.

The second panel focused on building Gulf community archives and showcased different cases in Qatar and Kuwait, under the title ‘Building Gulf Community Archive’. Following this, attendees looked at the importance of collecting information and documenting oral histories through ‘Listening to Archives’ panel. While oral history has been a popular tool for community archives, collections can also include photographs, written documents, material artefacts, digital files and websites. Concluding the symposium was a panel exploring cases of ‘Communities Inside of Communities’ with an outlook on The Online Community Archive of Western Expats from 1950s Qatar.

Located in the Heritage Quarter, a historic area of Msheireb Downtown Doha, Bin Jelmood House is one of four heritage houses that have been restored to create a trusted cultural destination that enriches the community. Rooted in history, these reconstructed buildings and gallery spaces allow the community to engage with significant aspects of Qatar’s past and memories of life, before the country’s rapid economic development.

Since the inception of UCL Qatar in 2012, the students of the Master in Museum and Gallery Practice have collaborated with Qatari cultural institutions to create and develop temporary creative exhibitions.

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