Our definition of Marine Cultural Heritage is key to the scope and breadth of projects we aim to fund. Marine Cultural Heritage (MCH) is a catch all terms for all of the space – coast and sea – that is affected by human maritime action. As a result we take a broad view of the MCH of East Africa encompassing tangible remains such as submerged marine sites, coastal archaeology, maritime ecologies, geology as well as the intangible components such as cultural practices, artistic and linguistic expressions, local skills, traditional and historical knowledge.
Our consideration of the reach of MCH is similarly broad and includes its relationship to economic development, environmental management, social justice, education and identity. We envisage funding activity encompassing a range of disciplines (archaeology, anthropology, coastal engineering, climate science, geography, law, natural sciences, museum and material culture studies) bringing together African-based research teams to work with local communities, NGOs, third sector partners and marine industry stakeholders to utilise the full potential of MCH and bring widespread and sustainable benefits to the region.
Globally, the potential and importance of MCH has not yet been realised anywhere. Critically, MCH is under threat everywhere, especially in the Western Indian Ocean, from natural forces and climate driven coastal change as well as intensification in coastal and offshore development. We are losing the resource before we have had a chance to harness its potential. Local capacity in eastern Africa to undertake such activity is limited and urgently needs enhancing through investment in research-based training and public engagement.
Taking a holistic approach to marine heritage, we intend to fund projects that integrate scholarship on East Africa’s coastal built heritage, underwater sites, environments, natural resources, legal structures, material practices and living traditions into new conversations, resulting in an enhanced understanding of the region’s MCH.