Symposium Program

Translations: العربية

The symposium will be held at Msheireb Museums - Bin Jelmood House

For more information or to RSVP, contact events.qatar@ucl.ac.uk.
(RSVP is appreciated but not necessary).

Schedule - Thursday, 3 May 2018

8:30-9:00 Registration and refreshments
9:00 Opening remarks and Welcome
Director Hafiz AliMsheireb Museums
Sam EvansDirector, UCL Qatar
9:10-9:35 Morning Keynote
Dr. Andrew FlinnUCL (London), UK
“Community archives and history-making: exploring the past in the present to change the future”
Dr Flinn will open up the day by reflecting upon on some of the traditions and motivations of independent and community-based archiving in the UK and elsewhere, the usage & adoption of the term community archives, and the practices and approaches that have underpinned community archives (including activist collecting, valuing and re-contextualizing 'ephemera', oral history as a tool of voice and empowerment, and digital archives).
9:35-10:25 Panel 1: Documenting Everyday Life
Fadi AslehKhazaaen, Jerusalem, Palestine
Khazaaen: A Community Archive to Document Everyday life in Palestine and the Arab World
On the experience of establishing Khazaaen as a community archive to document everyday life in Palestine and the Arab world with a discussion of what the collection, its contents, archival processes and the progression towards its goals in the short and long-term. Also to be discussed is the imperative to document and archive in light of the political tensions in the Arab world and the context of colonization.
Sadiya AhmedEveryday Muslim Heritage and Archive Initiative, UK
The Everyday Muslim Heritage and Archive Initiative: Taking Ownership of Our History by Documenting Our Heritage
I will discuss how the Everyday Muslim project reflects the past, represents the present and negotiates the future of Muslim heritage in Britain.
Aisha Ali Al Kuwari and Mohammed AlYousefMsheireb Museums, Doha, Qatar
Msheireb Museum’s experience in Oral History
10:25-11:15 Panel 2: Building Gulf Community Archives
Hadeel EltayebNorthwestern University – Qatar
Community Archives and Sites of Urban Memory in the Gulf
In exploring the relatively new practice of establishing community archives in the Gulf, landscapes of urban development and regeneration, we confront absence and presence as influencing factors when compiling a shared history and ultimately uncovering the nearest depiction of a wider truth from fragments of personal stories. Through case studies of mapping archival projects in the Gulf region, the drive is to discover continuities which set a clear research methodology when faced with gaps in a narrative. Using Oral History practice is both a form of research to piece together a collective memory, and a tool to uncover the histories and voices which are missing or suppressed from documentation in the historical record. Countries within the GCC are rich sites for more long-term research on intangible heritage due to their complex and undocumented histories, pre-dating the establishment of newspapers, media and communication initiatives which contributed to nation-building. As we aim for multiplicity of stories, as researchers our aim is to think critically, assessing possibilities for shaping archival practice in the future, through building grass-roots, community initiatives and considering where institutions can ethically foster these practices through empowering local communities.
Noor BoushehriKuwiati Council of Ministers
On Selective Remembrance: The Case of Failaka Island and the Potential for Community Archives
The theory and practice of conservation has always gone hand-in-hand with notions of memory, identity, culture, and above all, power. Addressing topics such as history, heritage, and the past as a human construct, the field of conservation relies a great deal on the documentation and interpretation of such histories. Whose history is being told, to what end, and vice versa. What resources are properly documented and archived can have great affect on conservation efforts in determining value and an ultimate conservation/destruction balance.
Selective remembrance becomes evident in the case of Failaka Island, where certain sites are being thoroughly excavated and studied and others demolished and erased from the historical context of the island, such as the case of the Shrine of AlKhidhr. This talk goes through the process of research and data collection for the Failaka island research project. An island that for thousands of years has seen continuous human settlement, from the Bronze Age to the current State of Kuwait, making for a vast historical fabric layered with multiple narratives contributing to a unique sense of identity.
Sakena al-AlawiUniversity of California at Los Angeles, USA
The Imperative of Documentary Records: Envisioning a Kuwaiti Community-Based Participatory Archive
The first traces of a Kuwaiti community started in the 17th century with the migration of families from neighboring countries to the lands of Kuwait. These families formed a nomadic tribal community that later evolved to include a political structure and a social system characterized by shared traditions, religion, and language. After the discovery of oil in the 20th century, the culture of the Kuwaiti community was influenced by a major influx of foreign labor, slowly diminishing the observance of traditional Kuwaiti culture and practices. This has raised concerns about how to preserve Kuwait’s original culture and traditions. After conducting interviews to understand current archival status and practices in Kuwait following the Iraqi Invasion of 1990, I began researching solutions for restoring the archives. After exploring the origins, history, and culture of the Kuwaiti community, I propose an economical, cost-efficient solution that utilizes both the participatory model and community archives key principles. This paper evaluates the benefits of establishing community-based participatory archives nested within the Center for Research and Studies on Kuwait, a leading archival institution.
11:30-12:00 Lunch Break
12:00-12:25 Afternoon Keynote
Dr. Anne GillilandUniversity of California at Los Angeles, USA
“Moving Communities: Moving Stories?”
Dr. Gilliland will discuss the impetuses and physical, technological and affective considerations relating to community- based archiving of communities that move, are moved or that are forced to move; from nomadic to trading communities to forced migration and forced diasporas.
12:25-13:15 Panel 3: Listening to Archives
Michael Telafici and Abdulla Al-HemaidiTexas A&M – Qatar
Qatar Histories: Considering the development and ownership of an oral history website
Michael Telafici will discuss the process and progress of QatarHistories.org, an oral history website he has been incorporating into his technical writing syllabi at Texas A&M University at Qatar for several years. Questions of access, ownership, as well as the project's relation to the university, students (of various backgrounds, Qatari, non-Qatari long-term residents, international students) will be discussed, as well as possible future directions and collaborations.
Haitham Al-AbriUniversity of Liverpool, UK and Ibra College of Technology, Oman
Recording community memories and aspirations of traditional Omani Settlements
Oman’s diverse geography and climate – structured by the Oman Mountains and extending between the Indian Ocean littoral and the Arabian Desert – has manifested in a diverse vernacular built environment of more than 1100 settlements across the country. An Arabian society shaped by a complex tribal structure, Oman has also been an active participant in the Indian Ocean trade network, bringing in wide-ranging influences from India, Iran, East Africa and even China, shaping its religion, society, architecture and settlements.

The paper aims to present ArCHIAM’s methodological approach to recording people's memories of traditional life in oasis settlements, which are an exemplary manifestation of tribal and cross-cultural interactions across the Arabian Peninsula, as well as their aspirations for their future development of these settings. It will do so by identifying, recording and analysing a selection of architectural and urban examples of the impact of the community story recording in understanding the socio-political cohesion and morphological development of their settlements. These recording and analysis was followed by the first community engagement and partnership to reflect their aspiration.
Sophie Richter-DevroeDoha Institute for Graduate Studies
Archiving Naqab Bedouin Women’s Lives: Potential, Pitfalls and Perils of Oral History
In this paper I discuss the challenges I faced when conducting a 2-year-long oral history project with Naqab Bedouin women. The Naqab Bedouin are a community of ca. 200.000 Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel for whom orality, rather than textual knowledge, constitutes a central element of identity.

Oral history and the archiving of oral narratives and testimonies can challenge or even counter written colonial narratives by recuperating indigenous histories. Yet, both as a historiographical method and a political (/activist) tool, it also has limitations, especially in oral communities. In Naqab Bedouin culture historical events, until recently, were rarely written down. Most women and men from the older generation are illiterate and tend to tell (and know) their traditions, memories and narratives of the past through spoken or sung poetry, myths and epics: Does recording, writing down and archiving such orally-transmitted knowledges mean fixing and essentializing them? Do oral history archives pose the danger, as Dennis Tedlock (1991: 74) remarked, of “freez[ing] their tradition”? How can such epistemic violence of freezing women’s lives be pre-empted?

My presentation will critically engage with this methodological challenge. In particular, I critique celebratory stances that praise oral history archives for recuperating ‘authentic’ or ‘indigenous’ voices. Instead, I investigate how the essentializing, folklorizing and freezing tendencies of the archive might be pre-empted. My paper thus opens a discussion on the potentials, pitfalls and perils of using oral history methods in the context of indigenous communities, with a particular focus on archiving women’s lives.
Sumayya AhmedUniversity College London – Qatar
The Qatar Talking Archives Project: Collecting Information about Qatar’s Oral Histories
Oral history has been the preferred method for historical documentation in Qatar. However, many of the projects undertaken to document Qatari life have not been properly archived. It is not an exaggeration however to say that there is a proliferation of recorded oral histories in Qatar that have not been listened to for years and that are in deteriorating states. Most recordings were never transcribed, and their contents remain unknown to researchers and the general public. This talk will discuss the nascent Qatar Talking Archives Project, which intends to survey, document and preserve extant Qatar-based oral histories.
13:15-14:05 Panel 4: Communities inside of Communities
Video Part 1 Part 2
Caroline SimpsonQurna History Project
Collecting, documenting and displaying the history of Qurna and the Qurnawi in Egypt
The Qurnawi lived in the various hamlets strung out along the lower slopes of the hillside on the west bank at Luxor. It was an important burial site for nearly 3,000 years and the Qurnawi settled permanently in and on these tombs from the late 18th century. The thousands of foreigners who worked and visited here wrote about it, painted it, made drawings and maps and took photos – all of which they took home. The authorities had long wanted to move the people away, and in the mid-1990s there were renewed attempts and I was asked by some Qurnawi I knew ‘to help’. The only way I felt I could help was to make an exhibition to explain their history, needs and aspirations that they could use with the authorities. I soon found that their history was largely in archives and collections outside Egypt, mainly unknown and unseen by the Qurnawi, and I decided to try to give it back to them. I made further exhibitions about its history, buildings and environment and we restored a number of unique local buildings. Families had few, if any, photos of relatives – living or dead - and did not have cameras, and certainly no printing facilities. I took lots of photos of people I knew and the buildings on the hillside, many of which I printed and took back ‘next time’. Due to their inter-action with the hillside, the tombs and foreigners they were a very special people who deserved to have their personal stories recorded. They were resettled 2006-8 and 98% of the buildings destroyed.
Mostafa Sheshtawyfilmmaker
Film: Immortalizing Memories: a documentary on the Egyptian community that lived in the Ateya building in Doha
Filmmaker Mostafa Sheshtawy captures the memories of the community in the small complex, where he himself grew up, through interviews with his family and neighbours. As Doha continues to modernise rapidly, ‘Immortalizing Memories’ is as a reminder of the importance of community in any city.
Neon XChildren of Qatar
The Community Archive of Western Expats from 1950s Qatar
My name was Alan Gotting and I am the youngest son of Dr & Mrs Alwyn Gotting. I am not sure of the exact date that my parents (along with my sister Anne, and brothers John and Stephen) left Libya for Doha but it would have been sometime between 1953 to 1954.

My father was a doctor and my mother a nurse, they both worked in the first hospital that was built near the coastline not far from the Amiri Diwan. My twin brother and I were born in that hospital and although we were not the first children to be born and registered at the Political Agency (that accolade goes to Roger Webster) we were the first set of twins to be born and registered.

Sixty odd years later after posting a picture of one of my birthday parties from my childhood on my own Facebook profile I wondered how many people that were in the picture I could find using the internet and modern technology. So here is picture that inspired the group on Facebook.

I just thought it would be interesting to see how many people I could find across the world and I also wondered if any of them had photographs, memories or stories of what Doha was like back then. The results quite astounded me and now we have an online archive from the early days of Qatar that our group members can look back on to help us remember our childhoods and the great times that we all had and shared during those early days. My talk will focus on the materials and memories we have collected.

14:05-14:35 Open Floor Discussion (all presenters and participants)
What does the future of community archives in the region look like?
Simultaneous Arabic to English and English to Arabic translation will be provided throughout the symposium