Protection and preservation of tangible and intangible Palestinian cultural heritage

Première Urgence Internationale (PUI) in cooperation with cultural organisations, universities in the Gaza Strip and international experts work to protect and preserve Tell Umm ‘Amr (The Saint Hilarion Monastery) under its Youth-led INTIQAL program. The Monastery of Saint Hilarion, is a rare site for its architectural elements and bears an exceptional historical, religious and cultural testimony. The monastery was an important station on the crossroads between Egypt and Palestine and was an important place of exchange and transmission for cultural and educational activities.

Palestinian young woman from the video Protection and preservation of Palestinian Cultural Heritage – Traditional Food I © Première Urgence Internationale

The diverse, on-site training in archaeological skills, photogrammetry, mosaic treatment, identification, drawing of objects, artefacts, and zoo archaeology form a hub of activities for the community in the Gaza Strip. Technicians, students, and professional workers have benefited and improved their capacities during this international knowledge exchange.

During the project, the Saint Hilarion Monastery acted as a central, peaceful space for community gatherings. Cultural events to revive the intangible Palestinian cultural heritage in the Monastery by engaging children, youth, women and men, as well as older generations in cultural activities. More than 200 people have attended four events and open days on the site and since December 2017 and 84 youth – including 48 females – have received training in the field of heritage protection and archaeological conservation.

The Palestinians living in the South Hebron Hills (SHH), occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), are village dwellers. They have a rich cultural heritage, including vivid oral tradition, pastoral and agricultural practices, food and drink, and traditional arts and handicrafts. This heritage is at risk as a result of the Israeli occupation which has seriously impacted how Palestinians share their lived cultural heritage between generations and communities.

A group of 30 young people living in the SHH have been trained in oral history and research techniques, film and photography, and advocacy and presentation skills.  They have recorded 100 hours of interviews with members of the oldest generation in thirty villages and hamlets to gather their intangible cultural heritage. Heritage recorded by the youth researchers has been shared with local, national and international audiences.

On February 24th, organised a Symposium was co-organised by with Coventry University and Première Urgence Internationale (PUI). This international symposium shared experiences about protection of both tangible and intangible cultural heritage by Palestinians from South Hebron Hills (SHH) and Gaza Strip. The event featured presentations of the digital outputs made by the Palestinian youth, including short videos on Traditional Food, Agriculture and herding, and Archaeological places in the Gaza Strip. These inspiring films are available on the PUI YouTube channel.

Beyond PUI, there were also speakers from Coventry University, Islamic University of Gaza and the University of Palestine, and involvement from the British Council.

This online Symposium involved nearly 100 participants and included live translation allowing participants to choose to listen in either Arabic or English. There was also a sign language interpreter ensuring that everyone involved in the Symposium could participate fully. A conference illustrator provided real time drawings that captured some of the powerful stories and international conversations.

Première Urgence International teams have developed a comprehensive approach to Youth and Cultural Heritage through the development of INTIQAL, acknowledging that cultural heritage conservation can have an enormous impact on the lives, livelihoods and well-being of communities in the Gaza Strip.

The INTIQAL program sets in motion a virtuous circle by linking the themes of heritage preservation, long-term economic development, and cultural & social development, allowing multiple benefits in terms of sustainable development, strengthening the resilience of local populations and the promotion of Palestinian cultural heritage at local and international levels.

More info on the INTIQAL social networks

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