Sunday, 17 October 2021 01:16 GMT

VCUarts Qatar faculty, students awarded UREP grant for proposal to preserve traditional games

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Doha: Three faculty members and six students at VCUarts Qatar have been awarded an Undergraduate Research Education Program (UREP) grant by Qatar National Research Fund, a member of Qatar Foundation, for a research proposal titled 'The Preservation of Qatari Cultural Heritage Through the Preservation and Promotion of Traditional Games'. The project aims to preserve intangible national culture for current and future generations by digitally archiving and promoting traditional Qatari games.

VCUarts Qatar faculty members Patty Paine, Director, Liberal Arts & Sciences, Law Alsobrook, Associate Professor, Graphic Design, and Dr. Summer Bateiha, Associate Professor, Liberal Arts & Sciences, will mentor students Latifa Al Sulaiti, Maryam Al Muftah, Ghada Al Qashouti, Fatima Abbas, Naima Almajdobah, Amna Al Horr during the research process.

The significance of the research lies in its capacity to preserve games that run the risk of being lost to the forces of modernisation, urbanisation, and globalisation. When such games disappear, they take with them those values, narratives, histories, insights and identities linked to the culture of a population. 

“We discovered that there is scant information about Qatari traditional games and that there is a gap in the current knowledge about these games as important sources of intangible heritage,” Paine said.“The intangibility of traditional games and their reliance on collective memory makes them fragile and easily lost. We hope to preserve these games and the important cultural heritage they represent.”

In addition to preserving traditional games, publicizing them and the narratives that surround them, to people from outside of the Qatari culture, the research will provide others with a deeper awareness and understanding of Qatari culture and traditions, bringing new light to existing heritage.

The project aligns with pillars two and three of Qatar's National Vision 2030, namely Human Development and Social Development, and is consistent with UNESCO's first Proclamation of“Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” first issued in 2001. UNESCO's Proclamation endeavored to foster the preservation and promotion of such cultural heritage including games. UNESCO asserted that“games reflect cultural diversity and foster mutual understanding and tolerance among communities and nations” and that preserving traditional games is“important for the generations to come. It is equally important that such knowledge remains in the public domain, and is accessible by everyone” [UNESCO, 2001].

Researchers will create an accessible archive of traditional games in order to preserve and to study the games as cultural, historical, and where applicable, narrative objects. 

“We're not just interested in the games but also in the stories of those who played the games,” Alsobrook said.“Through focus groups, surveys and individual interviews we hope to capture the recollections of those who played these games. In many ways, preserving these accounts is as important as preserving the games themselves.”

A digital archive of these traditional games will be developed and promoted through social media campaigns, and through the creation of materials that can be used in K-12 classrooms. The researchers hope that their investigations and findings would eventually lead to traditional gameplay gatherings and the creation of intergenerational traditional gaming clubs. 

“We hope to interest the younger generations in these games and to host events where these games can be played and enjoyed,” Bateiha added.“We're also interested in adapting select traditional games into digital formats so that a traditional game can experience a new life as a video or mobile game.”


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