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Cultural heritage in South Tunisia. A twinning project promoting interdisciplinary and participatory sciences for an inclusive society.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SfaxForward (Cultural heritage in South Tunisia. A twinning project promoting interdisciplinary and participatory sciences for an inclusive society.)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2020-12-31

The “SfaxForward” Twinning project strengthens the capacities of an innovative academic centre regarding Cultural Heritage: the Maghreb House of the Humanities and Social Sciences (MdMSH) at the University of Sfax.
SfaxForward postulates that Tangible and Intangible Heritage can play a central role in a territory’s transformation and development. By learning to cherish their Cultural Heritage, people can discover who they are and what they share.
The characterization and subsequent participatory management of these common cultural assets should engender a more stable and inclusive society. One that better manages migratory flows thanks to its citizens enjoying greater control over their lives, while constructing and taking possession of their own territory.
SfaxForward’s goal is to position the MdMSH as an international model for mutually beneficial relations between academic and civil society, with Heritage serving as a driving force of regional development and stability. This necessitates establishing the conditions for a fruitful dialogue between researchers and civil society to enlighten public policy and action. Southern Tunisia constitutes the project’s territory-laboratory.
To achieve this goal, SfaxForward develops three types of initiatives: multidisciplinary conferences and workshops on the project’s key themes, thematic schools dedicated to young researchers, and an Observatory of Southern Tunisian Heritage constructed in collaboration with civil society.
The extensive interdisciplinary experience of the collaborating French and Belgian Houses of the Humanities and Social Sciences benefits MdMSH in constructing its own unique scientific identity, with an ambition for international excellence.
During the first periodic report SfaxForward project team has organized several activities: a conference, a workshop, a study day and two hands-on training. These activities were an opportunity to exchange ideas and to open enriching debates within an interdisciplinary team using participatory approach (archeologist, economist, sociologist….).

To strengthen the scientific capacity of the MdMSH, the SfaxForward project team participated in conferences and seminars to promote the MdMSH and to communicate and exchange with other experts.
In order to improve the managerial capacities of the MdMSH in European project management, the consortium has supported SfaxForward’s project manager in day to day project management.
Online training sessions were organized to improve the skills of the SfaxForward project manager.
Thanks to Sfax's MdMSH joining the RnMSH (French network of Houses of the Humanities and Social Sciences), the SfaxForward project team was invited to participate in the annual meeting of the RnMSH.
In order to create an Observatory on the Heritage of Southern Tunisia, the SfaxForward project mobilized a large team to collect data from the different governorates concerned by the project. This data collection aims to feed the computer platform dedicated to the Observatory of Southern Tunisia Heritage. The data collected by the SfaxForward project team until now are:

- A rich bibliography that covers the different axes of our project: heritage, environment, development, migration, culture, tourism, youth, gender, minorities...

- An inventory of Civil Society Organizations (Associations, Public Actors, Private Actors), to identify local actors concerned by the observatory.
The expected results until the end of the project are:

- Enhancing the reputation, attractiveness and networking channels of Sfax University and MdMSH. With the SfaxForward project MdMSH and more generally the University of Sfax will become a central player of southern Mediterranean rim in the field of Heritage studies.
- Strengthen the managerial capacity of the MdMSH and the University of Sfax in terms of management of European projects.
- To strengthen collaboration between researchers from the project’s partner universities on the multidisciplinary theme of heritage preservation and promotion.
- Creation of an Observatory of Southern Tunisia Heritage, that will be used to identify, memorize and promote Southern Tunisia Heritage. This collection will also serve to list the works and civil society organizations interested in exploiting Heritage of this region. The database once created and implemented will be a reference source openly accessible to the public.
- Promoting Southern Tunisian Heritage to be a vector of sustainable development. This will be achieved through the proposal of guides and tourist circuits for these areas.