Syria: new project about storytelling

On 1 January 2014 the Swedish Foundation Cultural Heritage without Borders started a new project. Focus is the preservation of one of Syria’s intangible cultural heritages, the tradition of oral storytelling. The name of the project is al- Hakawati – the Storyteller, supported by the Swedish PostcodeLottery.

Nimer Salamoun, storyteller from Syria. Photo: Hakaya Storytelling Network

The basic idea of the project is to capture elements of traditional storytelling and record them in a bilingual (Arabic -English ) anthology to ensure that the stories remain available and can be spread outside of its direct targets groups.

Distribution and launch of the anthology will be made in conjunction with a traveling exhibition to be shown in Sweden and in the region surrounding Syria, and with storyteller who will make a selection of the stories alive in a context where they can be useful for an audience that has great need of the type of distraction that both entertains and is linked to a common cultural heritage. Similar activities are planned in Sweden in areas where many people originally from Syria.
A clear purpose and expected effect is greater knowledge of Syrian history and cultural affiliation as a long-term multicultural society, increasing self-esteem and more grounded own identity which in itself constitutes a good basis to understand and accept differences.

By highlighting the cultural heritage of storytelling as a common denominator for solidarity across ethnic and religious boundaries, the project has a potential to contribute to a better understanding and hopefully reconciliation in a post conflict situation.

Cultural Heritage without Borders has received SEK 2.4 million in support from the Swedish PostcodeLottery for the project al-Hakawati.