Expert meeting on participatory cultural heritage management in El Kef, Tunisia

On 12th November 2021, ArCHIAM and the ENGAGE Network’s North Africa regional office, ENGAGE-Tunisia, co-hosted the online expert meeting El Kef, Tales of Marginalised Heritage in North-West Tunisia. Community-centred Visions for El Kef’s Cultural Heritage Management and Valorisation. Organised by Dr Majdi Faleh, Dr Asma Gharbi and Dr Nourchen Ben Fatma (ENGAGE-Tunisia) with Dr Giamila Quattrone (ArCHIAM), the meeting is the result of an academic collaboration between the École Nationale d’Architecture et d’Urbanisme de Tunis – ENAU, the University of Liverpool and Nottingham Trent University.

Participants discussed community-centred avenues for the management and valorisation of the millennia-old built heritage of El Kef – from the Roman baths and cisterns to the Ghriba Synagogue, from the Ali Turki Mausoleum to the kasba – and the promotion of local gastronomic traditions, handicrafts and the Siccajazz festival. The debate highlighted the need to approach the city’s cultural heritage in the context and as a driver of sustainable regional development, integrate the city into the existing network of popular tourism destinations in the north of Tunisia and arrest the relentless medina’s desertion and dilapidation and its simultaneous uncontrolled development.

Prof. Fakher Kharrat joined the meeting’s opening remarks, speaking about the interest of ENAU, which he directs, in this academic collaboration. Speakers included:

  • Prof Gamal Abdelmonem, Chair in Architecture at the School of Architecture, Design and Built Environment at Nottingham Trent University and lead of the University’s Research Theme Global Heritage: Science, Management and Development;
  • Prof Soumyen Bandyopadhyay, Sir James Stirling Chair in Architecture at the Liverpool School of Architecture (LSA), Director of the ArCHIAM Research Centre and former Head of School;
  • Ms Amel Hachana, General Director of Agence de Mise en Valeur du Patrimoine et de Promotion Culturelle (AMVPPC);
  • Mr Mohamed Tlili, historian, ICOMOS member, heritage expert and consultant, Kef municipal councillor (2018-2023) and president of the Culture Commission;
  • Mr Walid Rahali, Regional Tourism Commissioner;
  • Mr Ramzi Jebabli, lawyer and founder of Siccajazz;
  • Dr Bouthaina Gharbi, PhD in Culture and Heritage Enhancement and founder of Animed;
  • Dr Asma Gharbi, Lecturer in Architecture and Researcher at ENAU/ISTEUB.