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UK - Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Conserving Cultural Heritage: The Resilience of Forcibly Displaced Syrian Artisans in Jordan

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Programme Data Last Updated: 23/03/2022

IATI Identifier: GB-GOV-13-FUND--GCRF-ES_P004792_1

Description

Prior to Syria's devastating civil war and escalating refugee crisis at least 12% of Syria's gross domestic product was generated by cultural heritage crafts (Jordan Times Online, 2016). Yet by 2015, approximately 80% of these artisans had left their trade, and fled to neighbouring states in search of safety and security (Jordan Times Online, 2016) resulting in a grave threat to Syria's cultural heritage. However, whilst there remains a marginal community of artisans in Syria, the forcibly displaced Syrian artisans in Jordan are reviving their cultural heritage crafts by operating in Jordan's informal economy and adopting economic and cultural survival strategies to create their own pathways and networks to provide a livelihood for themselves and their families. The vast majority of Syrian refugees are living in extreme poverty earning below the Jordanian poverty line equivalent to US$ 96 per person per month (UNHCR, 2016). They are living with minimal prospects for economic, social and cultural development and integration. This project addresses Jordan's development challenges arising from the burgeoning influx of forcibly displaced Syrians by exploring the resilience, vulnerabilities and identities of the forcibly displaced Syrian artisans residing in Jordan since the war in Syria erupted in 2011. Doing so will help us answer questions about the socio-political impact of engaging in cultural heritage crafts on the forcibly displaced Syrian community in Jordan, the impact of cultural appropriation through 'made in Jordan' Syrian cultural heritage products on the conservation of the Syrian cultural heritage by the forcibly displaced artisans, and the impact of displacement and the arising marginalised masculinities, on the resilience of neo-patriarchal displaced Arab communities. Indeed, focusing on their resilience will help us to understand how the forcibly displaced artisans overcome social, economic and political vulnerabilities, and thus, how they respond to economic and social upheaval. In doing so, we contribute to the rapidly growing resilience discourse which has largely ignored the resilience of forcibly displaced artisans, and forcibly displaced Syrians. Mixed methods will be used to collect data from multidisciplinary stakeholders and 80 forcibly displaced Syrian artisans residing in Jordan. In addition, the project has three capacity building components. The first is to enhance Jordan's social research capacity by training postdoctoral researchers, and the second advances the largely misunderstood social enterprise model by training trainers to deliver a social enterprise start up programme for forcibly displaced artisans. The third focuses on the forcibly displaced artisans by offering them social enterprise start up training and mentoring. Stakeholder engagement is a key focus of the project and thus an introductory event and dissemination event will be held in Amman - Jordan. The introductory event will help to alleviate any suspicions about the project's aims, and the dissemination event will focus on research, practice and policy development for the forcibly displaced. The project will be realised through the interdisciplinary strengths of the team of investigators and project partners. Haya Al-Dajani (Principle Investigator) brings a gender, enterprise and displacement expertise, whilst Geoff Wilson (Co-Investigator) is an expert on resilience and Marta Rabikowska (Co-Investigator) is an expert in the creative industries and visual and sensorial methods. The Jordanian Partner the King Hussein Foundation Information and Research Centre is an internationally recognised centre focused on socio-economic planning and transformation through research, advocacy and knowledge transfer. The second Jordanian Partner - Tiraz is a unique non-profit cultural foundation and cultural heritage research centre dedicated to promoting and preserving the threatened Arab cultural heritage.

Objectives

Given the dearth in the available literature and research investigating the preservation of cultural heritage by forcibly displaced artisans, exploring the needs and capacities of Syrian artisans in Jordan is essential. Hence, the proposed project aims to explore the resilience of the forcibly displaced Syrian artisans residing in Jordan, and directly addresses Jordan's development challenges arising from the burgeoning influx of forcibly displaced Syrians, through a number of significant objectives: 1. Exploring the entrepreneurial innovation and creativity in organising this industry within the Jordanian informal economy. 2. Exploring the impact of the cultural appropriation of the Syrian cultural heritage arts and crafts, on the forcibly displaced Syrian community as well as the host nation of Jordan. 3. Exploring the gendering of this sector, and its impact on the forcibly displaced Syrian community and the receiving host nation of Jordan. 4. Capacity building to enhance the research mindset and skills amongst Jordanian researchers by training four postdoctoral researchers in conducting impactful qualitative data collection in vulnerable forcibly displaced communities. 5. Capacity building to enhance the understanding of the social enterprise model amongst Jordanian stakeholders, and its adoption amongst the forcibly displaced Syrian artisans in Jordan. The proposed project contributes to the GCRF ESRC and AHRC aim of ""understanding the diversity of experiences and the shape of the immediate and long term responses, both of the displaced themselves and the agencies that seek to intervene"" by focusing on the experiences, vulnerabilities and resilience of Syrian artisan men forcibly displaced to Jordan since the war in Syria erupted in 2011. This will be achieved by exploring how this population have been conserving their Syrian cultural heritage crafts and skills, and identity in Jordan. Furthermore, we will contribute to the GCRF ESRC and AHRC overarching aim through the social enterprise capacity building component of the proposed project. We envision the contribution of this social enterprise component as outlined in the proposal, to impact upon the forcibly displaced Syrian community in Jordan, the Jordanian host nation itself as well as other forcibly displaced communities in Jordan such as the Iraqis and Palestinians. The above objectives will be realised through the interdisciplinary strengths of the investigators and project partners. Haya Al-Dajani (Principle Investigator) brings a gender, enterprise and displacement expertise to this project, whilst Geoff Wilson (Co-Investigator) is an expert on resilience and Marta Rabikowska (Co-Investigator) is an expert in the creative industries and visual and sensorial methods of data collection. The Jordanian Project Partner KHFIRC is an internationally recognised research centre focused on socio-economic planning and transformation through research, advocacy and knowledge transfer. The second Jordanian Project Partner - Tiraz is a unique non-profit cultural foundation and cultural heritage research centre dedicated to promoting and preserving the disappearing Arab cultural heritage.

Status - Post-completion More information about Programme status
Programme Spend More information about Programme funding
Participating Organisation(s) More information about implementing organisation(s)

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