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Local communities in East Africa to benefit from coastal heritage sites

Professor Garry Marvin from the University of Roehampton’s Department of Life Sciences is using his expertise to support a £2 million research project to help East African communities better understand and benefit from marine cultural heritage. To support the project, the University is offering four East African students PhD scholarships. 

Posted: 13 September 2017

The project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) through its Global Challenges Research Fund Area-Focused Network scheme, will use academic expertise across the fields of marine and terrestrial archaeology, coastal geology, environmental law, heritage studies, and anthropology.

On the coast of East Africa, deep under the Indian Ocean, lie miles of heritage sites which have largely been untouched by the communities there. Working together with local people, researchers will document and raise awareness of East African marine cultural heritage, assess any risks to these sites, and explore ways in which local communities can engage with heritage for educational, social, and economic development.

Through Roehampton’s Centre for Evolutionary, Social and Inter-Disciplinary Research, the University will be responsible for the anthropological elements of the project. As part of which, it will offer four fully-funded PhD scholarships, and each of the students will be from the East African countries involved. One of the ways in which Professor Marvin aims to ensure the benefits to local communities is by partnering with an organisation to train local children to become underwater guides, offering visitors tours of the heritage sites.

Professor Lynn Dobbs, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, commented, “This is a highly significant research project which combines a multitude of disciplines and experts from the UK, Africa and Sweden, which will help to shape the way people understand marine heritage. One of the essential components the AHRC required was a project that would provide a lasting legacy, which this project does. This also fits in very well with Roehampton’s commitment to support high quality research that also has an impact on society.”

The project, Rising from the Depths: Utilising marine Cultural Heritage in East Africa to Help Develop Sustainable Social, Economic and Cultural Benefits, is a joint initiative involving the universities of Nottingham, Roehampton, York, Ulster, Bournemouth, Uppsala (Sweden), and Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique).

The University of Roehampton has outstanding anthropology undergraduate and postgraduate courses available through its Department of Life Sciences. 

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