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On Our Land – Protecting Bedouin Cultural Heritage in the occupied Palestinian territories

On Our Land – Protecting Bedouin Cultural Heritage in the occupied Palestinian territories


British Council



PI and Project Team Members

Marwan Darweish (PI)
Patricia Sellick (Co-I)
Elly Harrowell, Laura Sulin

Project Partners and Countries

Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (occupied Palestinian territory)

Project Overview

The project is funded by the British Council’s £30m Cultural Protection fund, which in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport aims to protect cultural heritage at risk due to conflict in the Middle East and North Africa. The project was initially awarded funding from August 2017-December 2018 (Phase 1), and then awarded an extension for January 2019-December 2019 (Phase 2).

Phase 1: Working with three Palestinian community organisations – the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, the Al Twani Craft Cooperative, and the Al Maleh Agricultural Cooperative – 20 young people were trained as youth researchers in their communities. After completing an intensive course in oral history techniques, as well as workshops in project design and management, these researchers have interviewed older generations to gather testimonies about cultural heritage in their communities. The process of recording heritage encourages the sharing of this knowledge between generations, as well as allowing the young people involved to develop valuable new skills. The data they collect will form the basis of an inventory of Bedouin lived cultural heritage in the oPt, especially those cultural resources that could support the resilience and sustainable economic development of future generations.

Phase 2: Builds on the previous stage of the project, by working together with the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC) to extend the reach of the project from the four initial villages to around 28 villages in the South Hebron Hills. The activities planned will deepen the intergenerational work to protect the intangible cultural heritage of the South Hebron Hills, and will also foster connections with other Bedouin communities in the oPt and MENA region. The key activities during Phase 2 of the project include interviews (~60 hours) by youth researchers with members of the oldest generations. A selection of these will be transcribed and translated and used to produce a short film and four podcast episodes. These interviews will form the basis for an expanded cultural inventory.

Ten more youth researchers will be recruited during Phase 2 of the project and they will attend oral history methodology and film and video training workshops. Youth researchers will receive training and practise skills required to educate and advocate for preservation of their cultural heritage through additional engagement with key stakeholders in the oPt. They will pursue new opportunities to engage with Bedouin communities in the MENA region and audiences in the UK.

Project Impact Statement

The aim of this project is for the Bedouin communities in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) to be able to use inter-generational knowledge and cultural practices related to their land in order to flourish. This will be achieved by helping to preserve and secure cultural heritage for future generations, representing an important political, economic and social resource for these communities.

Through their participation in the project, young people will become more active leaders and advocates for their communities. They will be able to better demonstrate the value of their cultural heritage and the needs of their communities in this regard. The project will not only record and protect the vibrant intangible cultural heritage of the Bedouins in the South Hebron Hills, but will help to transmit it to younger generations and between communities, a process that has been hindered in recent years by the impact of the Israeli military occupation.

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