The folklore expert Nahla Imam has a new role at Unesco, and she hopes to use it to raise awareness about the important role that educational institutions can play in the area of safeguarding cultural heritage.
Imam was recently elected to the international committee that evaluates traditions nominated for inclusion on Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage lists.
In an interview with Al-Fanar Media, Imam called on Arab countries wishing to register their heritage sites and traditions on the lists to prepare their cases on scientific bases that meet international standards.
Getting heritage elements registered is an important goal, she said, “but should never be the only one.”
“The goal is to increase the positive returns after registration, and the lessons learned by governments to preserve their heritage elements,” she added.
The most important step, at the moment, “is to prepare scientific-based archives,” Imam said.
That is where university research can help. Decision-makers in the Arab world should benefit from the academic production on heritage subjects, she said There are “great Arabic academic contributions that are fully aware of the value of heritage.”
“Decision-makers should pay attention to the value of cultural and social construction upon making any decision. Development plans must prioritize the cultural and social heritage of citizens,” she said. “Social scholars are the soldiers in any development process.”