Last November, the British Institute at Ankara (BIAA) and Newcastle University came together to host ‘Plural Heritages and Communities: A Workshop on Theory, Politics, and Practice of Community Co-production’. The day aimed to create an open space for discussion about the ways communities connect with diverse heritages that exist in specific places, and how this can inform heritage practices.

What are the purposes and dynamics of community engagement in heritage in Türkiye? How can we balance the needs of official heritage management, and inclusive and meaningful community engagement? How can we learn from the best community engagement research and practice?

These are some of the questions that were posed at the event which was inspired by Newcastle University’s ‘Plural Heritages of Istanbul: The Case of the Land Walls’, as well as the BIAA’s ‘Living Amid the Ruins’ project.

Across the day, people showcased their heritage projects and shared good examples of community engagement practices, giving them the chance to inspire each other and pave the way for future collaborations. At the end of the workshop, participants took the chance to discuss contemporary issues in community-oriented heritage projects and problems that can arise in community engagement.

See the event programme here

The attendees included representatives from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Ankara Metropolitan Municipality, research institutions, academics, and students, who have been working on community heritage projects focusing on Ankara and its multi-layered cultural heritage.

The workshop marked the first official event of the BIAA and Newcastle University’s commitment to long-term collaboration in heritage research based on their shared investigative approach to the idea of ‘communities’ in heritage studies by concentrating on groups of people that have often been silent, silenced or misunderstood.

“[The workshop] was very informative and mind-opening for us to follow the conducted research on Ankara and the shared experiences on projects recently held in the field. Furthermore, discussing what kind of projects could be developed for the heritage in Ankara, the workshop was very helpful for starting the networking necessary for possible future projects.”

– Ela Alanyalı Aral, the director of the ‘Tumuli of Ankara’ (Ankara Tümülüsleri)

“[The] diverse research methods used in the projects provided insight into community participation and representation”

Damla Barın (Hrant Dink Foundation)

“[The] discussion session with experts in this field at the end of the workshop provided a basis for the establishment of an inter-platform network to ensure cooperation for a more qualified integration of society and cultural heritage”

Yıldırım İnan (Ministry of Culture and Tourism)