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2023 · Language as/and Heritage

Online 23.-24. August 2023 ; Nairobi 29. August - 2. September 2023


In current heritage discourses and practices, language / languages are often just taken as an instrument or medium for the transmission of heritage, but not as heritage asset on its own.

The Summer School will introduce the participants to current discussions and critical approaches in the field of Language as Heritage and Language and Heritage. We shall also discuss the impact of UNESCO’s  International Decade of Indigenous Languages (IDIL 2022-2032) on the importance of minority languages beyond safeguarding.


The programme will start with an online introduction in four parts:

1. Perspectives from Nairobi on Language as / and Heritage

2. Food, language and heritage (discussing Nubian cuisine and tourism & Western Nilotic taste words and migration)

3. Nilo-Saharan languages and their history, and language(s) at the museum (discussing the Nubia Museum Aswan & Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum in Cologne)

4. Music and the invention of tradition (discussing Nubian tunes & “Shimoni” – a song and a cave) as well as memory, postcoloniality and Rothberg’s Implicated Subject.


During the stay in Nairobi, the programme will concentrate on the conference panel Heritage and the Art of Language with a diverse group of participants, artists, scholars, activists, mostly related to Nubian and Lwoo languages and heritage, as well as on key note lectures of the conference and visits to heritage places / museums. Students will conceptualize and realize a podium discussion with the participants at the end of the panel. As a special project concepts for the integration of language aspects in the Nubia Museum Aswan will be developed.

Classroom and online teaching, visits to heritage sites / museums and meetings with experts will serve as a preparation for exploratory field research projects to be carried out by the participating students in groups after the introduction and during the stay in Nairobi. This research will mainly deal with language and heritage in museums and in the field of music and cuisine as heritage assets.

Organized by Heinz Felber and Anne Storch (Institute for African Studies and Egyptology, UoC).


Panel Participants

Heba Abdelgawad (lecturer in museum and heritage studies), Menna Agha (prof. of design and spatial justice), Amado Alfadni (artist), Hafsa Amberkab (film maker and heritage activist), Dmitri Bondarev (linguist), Monica Hanna (prof. of archaeology and heritage studies), Adel Maher (civil engineer), Joseph Modesto (language activist, translator), Winni Modesto (poet and writer) and colleagues from UNESCO Nairobi