Designing Cultural Heritage Events that Facilitate Intercultural Dialogue: An Example from the Sultanate of Oman in the Middle East

Thursday 20 June 2019, 12.30PM

Speaker(s): Dr Christa Knellwolf King (Associate Professor of English Literature, Sultan Qaboos University, Oman and Honorary Visiting Fellow, Department of English and Related Literature, University of York)

My talk introduces a project which I have developed at Sultan Qaboos University, Oman, which consists of theoretical and practical components. I will begin with a brief overview of the theoretical premises that explain why audiences of folktales and oral memories tend to open up towards the cultural communities whose traditions and values are encapsulated by the tales. The main focus of the talk is on the practical considerations involved in training students to collect stories and local memories: it discusses the communicative, analytical and creative skills that must be developed when students are faced with the task of translating oral memories and stories that were told in Arabic into written or multi-media presentations aimed at English-speaking international audiences. The talk describes the exciting dialogues that took place between the students who were collecting intangible cultural heritage and the generation of their parents and grand-parents. Finally, it comments on the skills that were developed when students were trained as project participants; how they learnt to identify the most important elements of local culture and were searching for non-judgemental and creative ways of commenting on traditional assumptions and values. The broader aims of the initiative include developing job opportunities for students in the field of cultural tourism and organising intercultural dialogues that aim to engender respect and understanding across cultural boundaries.

Location: The Treehouse, Berrick Saul Building