Making Change towards Inclusive Societies: The Soft Power of Community Archaeology in Building Cultural Heritage in Mozan, Syria
1. Introduction: The Soft Power of Community Archaeology
1.1. The Rise of Community Archaeology
1.2. The Case of Mozan, Syria
- The first phase started with the beginning of the archaeological work in the area, that soon adopted an inclusive cultural heritage approach that combined everyone in the area whether during the fields daily work or through the analysis of the site findings. Further discussion took place regarding how the activities changed the community in Mozan is further discussed throughout this paper, however, it is worth mentioning and this happened through systematic scientific training; to shape a field expert from the local community rather than a random worker that can be replaced easily and through a great deal of awareness campaigns and school visits to the site. Furthermore, providing the right conditions to include everyone in the area in the scientific work on field and during analysis and studies of the findings is important.
- The second phase happened during 2011 and 2012. This phase was led by the management unit of cultural heritage transformation project, the cultural department of Syria Trust for Development back then. During this phase many stakeholders and partners came together to deliver a cultural base community development program in the area.
- Building a flexible network from the governmental, civil and private sectors such as Toumohi institution, Syrian Youth Council “Nakoun”, Moubadroun group supported by the British Council and the Syrian Enterprise and Business Centre “CEBC”, as well as the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums and the archaeological mission.
- Providing two scholarships dedicated for two young women to study at the university.
- Establishing the Gate of Urkesh that included Urkesh women workshop for handicrafts, Kids club and kindergarten and the centre for capacity building.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Research Approach
2.2. Research Methods
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Comprehending Community Archaeology in Mozan: From Mutual Benefit to Mutual Respect: International Knowledge Meets Local Experts
“What derived (sic) me to work very close to local community and engage them with the analysis and the results of our archaeological site was not only connected to my basic belief in human common values, but also my strong belief that we share a symmetrical relationship with the local communities. Local people have an instinctive relationship to the territory and the land, which we archaeologist don’t have. But most of the locals don’t have interest in the past while we have a great interest. In another words, we know more about the ancient Urkesh, but they know more about Mozan. (The) local community can tell us a lot about the territory and by working with them we can learn a lot about how ancient Mozaniens used to manage the land.”
3.2. Empowering Communities: A Heritage Site for Everyone
3.2.1. Common Ground for Further Development
3.2.2. Public, Private and Civil Partnership to Inspire Community Participation
“We came to the area with the aim to connect with diverse communities there, engage with the youth. We were looking to facilitate the establishment of a platform where people can discuss their problems, reflect critically, realize their social and cultural resources and to come with their own initiatives. Then we intervene again to empower them by suggesting a vast and diverse network of professionals, experts and funders to insure a positive realization of local projects in the area.”
3.3. The Dynamics towards Inclusion
Social Exclusion in Mozan
“Recalling our initial work with young men in the area, the biggest challenge was to discuss with them the possibility of a locally based future for them. They all agreed that the area doesn’t have any future horizon, especially for those who had university degree. Therefore, we set the goal of creating an attractive atmosphere for youth to stay and realize their future plans.”
3.4. The Relevance of Community Archaeology to Inclusion Practices
“I can’t describe my feelings when they organized an exhibition in Aleppo for our handicraft creations, I couldn’t believe that many people came to see our work and actually many travelled from our area to Aleppo to support us. This was something I will never forget.”
3.4.1. Strengthening the Sense of Belonging and Empowering Local Groups
“Participating in this project made us realize how simple it is to get to know each other, to become friends, to trust each other and to work together. Actually, it was not as complicated as we always thought. Simply we were eager to know each other better, enthusiastic to succeed and brave to try.”
“This project was a breakthrough for the women in the area (Kurds and Arab) as it provided a comfort place for more than 30 women to get closer, chat and work… discover the uniqueness of each woman in the area, and it also provided us with economic independence, self-realization and respect. Men used to meet at the archaeological site, work together and talk.”
3.4.2. Supporting Communities to Reach Out from Within
3.4.3. Inspiring Social Action
“Our work as archaeologists should not be limited in excavating past artefacts with static and nostalgic values, but should include a serious search for values that support our present and impact our collective conscious as modern Syrians. Urkesh in this perspective played an important role in the forth and third millennia B.C. and continues to be important in our current era.”
3.5. Lessons Learned
“It was vital for us to have a mutual respectful relationship with the locals and trust them because we “archaeologists” can teach them about Urkesh but they can teach us about Mozan”
Conflicts of Interest
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Moualla, Y.; McPherson, G. Making Change towards Inclusive Societies: The Soft Power of Community Archaeology in Building Cultural Heritage in Mozan, Syria. Sustainability 2019, 11, 4670. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11174670
Moualla Y, McPherson G. Making Change towards Inclusive Societies: The Soft Power of Community Archaeology in Building Cultural Heritage in Mozan, Syria. Sustainability. 2019; 11(17):4670. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11174670Chicago/Turabian Style
Moualla, Yara, and Gayle McPherson. 2019. "Making Change towards Inclusive Societies: The Soft Power of Community Archaeology in Building Cultural Heritage in Mozan, Syria" Sustainability 11, no. 17: 4670. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11174670