Bournemouth University awarded funds from the AHRC to help tackle development challenges in East Africa and Eastern Europe

Bournemouth University (BU) researchers Dr Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers and Dr Luciana Esteves have been awarded funding as part of two successful bids led by the University of Leeds and the University of Nottingham, respectively.   One research project will explore how the voluntary sector can support young people in countries recovering from conflict.  The other will look at how marine cultural heritage can help sustainable development in East Africa.

Funding for both projects comes from the Arts & Humanities Research Council as part of the government’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).  Under this call, 5 international networks were funded, which aim to make a difference to challenges faced in developing countries. Two of these five networks will have contributions from Bournemouth researchers.

Dr Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers will be leading research in Kosovo as part of a wider project exploring how the voluntary sector can help to rebuild countries affected by conflict.  This builds on her previous collaborations and extensive research in the region, which has looked at post-war memory, identity building and conflict transformation.

“The overall aim of our research is to better understand how the voluntary sector can enhance social justice for young people in post-conflicts situations; particularly after wars in which they played no part but a legacy of societal divisions remains,” explains Dr Schwandner-Sievers.

“Our network will be working in Colombia, Cambodia, Kosovo, Rwanda and South Africa, all of which are at different stages of recovery from their pasts.  We’re particularly interested looking at the challenges young people face in these societies; how arts-based initiatives could support them and how these can draw on both local and global knowledge.”

Kosovo has seen numerous peace-building initiatives, which often lack local legitimacy and rely on international funding. “With our partners from University of Prishtina and wider civil society, we will reach out to marginalised groups and regions in Kosovo to develop an inclusive, culturally-cognisant, participatory arts-based programme,” says Dr Schwandner-Sievers,  “This could be taken up by either state education or civil society and, hopefully, serve as a wider model.” She adds that, “at BU, we can draw on vast experience in arts-based community work and transitional justice.”

As part of the East African project, Dr Esteves will explore the threats and management options to preserve coastal and maritime heritage, particularly Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar.  Coastal areas are becoming increasingly important in the development of the region because of growing investment in tourism, ports and new energy infrastructure.  At present, the wealth produced by these industries rarely benefit local communities.  This project will investigate how coastal and marine heritage can create alternative sources of income and employment for local communities.

“Marine areas are playing an increasingly important part in the economic development of East Africa, but this growth may present a risk to some of the existing marine heritage in the region.  Our project involves mapping and creative dissemination of coastal and marine cultural heritage, aiming to promote a sustainable local economy through research, capacity building and engagement with local organisations,” says Dr Esteves.

“Bournemouth University’s contribution to the project will focus on the impacts of climate change and coastal development on marine cultural heritage and the management strategies that can be co-created by local communities, government and private interests” continues Dr Esteves.

Co-creation with local partners is a key element of this project, which will involve recruiting postdoctoral researchers and PhD studentship candidates from East Africa, with the aim of enabling them to use their new knowledge in the region.

For more information about either project, please contact Dr Schwandner-Sievers or Dr Esteves.