Reimagining Tanzania’s Townscape Heritage

This joint Tanzania-UK project is funded by the AHRC as a response to the ‘UN Year of the Creative Economy for Sustainable Development 2021’. At its core we will be exploring the role of cultural traditions and creativity (film, music, soundscapes, visual arts, craft traditions) inspired by cultural assets (townscape heritage, coastal landscape setting and links to UNESCO World Heritage in mainland Tanzania, Zanzibar and the UK). This enhances and magnifies the impact of methods developed within our EU-SCORE-funded ‘Virtual Bradford’ project and the AHRC ‘Fragmented Heritage/ Curious Travellers’ project that combines photographic imagery together with mobile mapping data to digitally document cultural heritage sites in context.  

The project will develop a digital twin for the historic city of Bagamoyo to raise visibility for townscape heritage and to support local enterprises. The digital twin will serve as a framework to unite Bagamoyo’s tangible heritage (buildings, port and boat-building tradition, landscapes/ seascapes), and intangible narratives (stories, songs, cultural practices and craft knowledge) to help to document past and present lifeways. The project will draw from Bagamoyo’s rich heritage and cultural traditions, given Bagamoyo’s strategic coastal location, with trading links across the Indian Ocean, past, present and future – including its boat-building traditions, role with salt production and the spice trade; the slave and ivory trade; its colonial past and linkage both with Christianity and Islam – the entry of Christianity into the interior; and with historical figures including Dr Livingstone whose body was brought to Bagamoyo upon his death in Malawi. 

Digital heritage researchers and creative researchers at the University of Dar-es-Salaam, the University of Bradford and University of St Andrews will co-create digital and artistic works with partners, including the Institute of Arts & Culture Bagamoyo, Tanzania Film Board, Zanzibar Stone Town Heritage Society, Bradford Metropolitan District Council, Bradford UNESCO City of Film and the Scottish Fisheries Museum Trust. Collectively, the innovative digital heritage research will enhance inclusive engagement with the creative and cultural economy in Tanzania to support cultural heritage tourism, cultural resource management and knowledge exchange.