Plans and Reflections: Sheffield Meeting
In October 2019 team members from Cape Town, Kisumu and Sheffield met in order to feedback initial results from framing interviews and plan work for the coming year. The workshop offered opportunities to provide interview feedback, develop comparative emergent themes, and decide next steps. Importantly the time frame of this project reflects the needs of a set of researchers embedded in different contexts, positions and places. Following these differentiations, a long project set up was organised from the outset. This has provided space for research, site visits and sets of interviews in both contexts to establish the work.
Initial interviews: tensions and expertise
Initial feedback about all of the substantive interviews were shared in the workshop. Team members in Kisumu and Cape Town had carried out sets of interviews in each of their contexts. Prior to interviews, a set of interview questions had been developed across the project and these were used to guide interviews in both places, although they were differentially employed. Reflecting on the interviews we drew out shared challenges, as well as key findings to date. Discussions ranged from the different language used to investigate heritage in academic settings and how these are employed by practioners and community members. The contexts of Cape Town and Kisumu are very different in terms of histories of embedded research in cultural heritage. In Cape Town there have been important political mobilisation of cultural heritage meanings, in both the city of Cape Town and with activists, since the end of Apartheid in South Africa. This led to extremely rich debates in the context, of the potential role of cultural heritage in ‘just transformations’. In contrast there were very different sets of understanding and language that were identified by the Kisumu team in their initial interviews. Cultural heritage debates have not held such a pivotal role in popular discussions about the future of the city and the region, which has led to different conceptualisations of the terms and what its implications are. This led to very different engagements with the topics, and these similarities and differentiations were drawn out into some key themes.
Collectively Analysing initial interviews
After hearing the feedback from interviews key contexts and themes were drawn out to identify and cluster important research themes as well as comparative moments. These themes will be used to direct future work. In particular, we decided to draw out challenges, opportunities and potential points of comparison, in terms of context or in terms of dissimilar strategies, structural conditions and opportunities.
All researchers outlined their planned work for 2020. Both teams identified that they are using co-production and working as active intermediaries with communities and policy makers. However, the way in which this takes place, what it looks like on the ground and how this is initiated are very different in each context. In Kisumu the team are looking to create learning between sacred sites with different tactics and strategies for development. In Cape Town the project will create a generative reflection on cultural heritage through collaboration between different artists, and use of archives. It uses an arts based method, to go beyond life history approaches that are often used in heritage.
Both research teams want to reflect on and contribute to debates on livelihoods. Often cultural heritage is wrapped up in economic development agendas and it is a challenge and work for the teams to think about what benefits and values can be identified and mobilised with urban cultural heritage development. This is a crucial strand that the project seeks to develop, to understand the special cultural and community impacts of cultural heritage practices. These other values must be understood alongside livelihood necessities affecting many in Kisumu and Cape Town.