This network brings together UK and Ugandan researchers and practitioners with expertise in heritage, memory studies and education to critically explore appropriate methods of assessing informal learning in relation to peace and reconciliation in mobile heritage settings. Sites of heritage enrol people into particular practices, engagements with and negotiations of the past, and they are important spaces of informal learning about peace and reconciliation as a result. There is growing expectation that international, national and local heritage agencies and actors have a positive role to play in the prevention of conflict and post-conflict development yet these spaces are often neglected in considerations of education, as they are informal sites where memory work is undertaken but neglected in formal curriculum. This means that there is currently little understanding of the impact of informal heritage learning for sustained peace.
The network will produce interdisciplinary knowledge, build local research capacity within heritage organisations and strengthen an international collaboration for developing future research projects. Through this, it will directly contribute to the Ugandan Peace, Recovery and Development Plan and Refugee and the Host Population Empowerment Strategy. It will also address the global challenges and sustainable development goals of (1) enabling inclusive and equitable quality education and (2) reducing conflict and promoting peace, justice and humanitarian action.
The network focuses on recent and ongoing innovative heritage work by Nelson Abiti (the Ugandan Co-investigator of Uganda Museum) and associated cultural organisations. These mobile exhibitions seek to bring about informal learning about peace and reconciliation and achieve community cohesion amongst a variety of participant groups but tthe impact of which have not been tested. The network activities provide space for academics from the humanities and social sciences, heritage practitioners, government officials and participant groups to (1) reflect on the types of learning that are happening in these informal heritage sites and (2) co-construct meaningful and contextually-appropriate ways to assess this learning. The participant groups will include ex-combatants, refugees, community leaders, women peace club members, abductees and survivors.
Research capacity will be developed among Ugandan cultural organisations to understand and assess learning. We will co-develop informal learning indicators based on participants' reflections on their engagement with informal heritage learning. These will be of significant interest to a range of stakeholders concerned with the role of heritage sites in contributing to peaceful sustainable development in Uganda and across East Africa. The network will develop sustained international relationships that have the potential for longer-term research collaboration leading to significant impact. It is anticipated that this will include the co-design of collaborative academic articles and a large research project about informal heritage learning and the ways in which it can be mobilised to bring about positives outcomes for those affected by conflict, violence and displacement.