Digital Sudan: Digitizing Cultural Heritage for the Democratization of Knowledge - British Library Research Repository
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Conference paper (unpublished)

Digital Sudan: Digitizing Cultural Heritage for the Democratization of Knowledge

Abstract

For many decades, heritage in Sudan has been a battleground between the diverse political, religious and ethnic forces. This is affecting the way in which the educational and curriculum development processes are organized and how the acquisitions of public libraries, including the National Library, are selected. For many years, books and publications of a theological nature were the predominant feature on the shelves in public libraries. This is now gradually changing.

The digital advance has had a positive effect on the democratization of knowledge by offering a wider space and access for hitherto disempowered or marginalized groups to take part in the debate on issues of heritage, identity and basic rights. It has also offered a tool for digging out and publicizing vehicles of cultural heritage, such as manuscripts, photos and video or film items, which are suffering neglect or kept in horrific conditions. Issues of modes of collection of these items as well as of institutional and technical capacity across the board need to be addressed.

The National Library of Sudan (established in 1999, became operational in 2005), in cooperation with the Sudanese Association for Archiving Knowledge (SUDAAK), the National Archives of Sudan and other national and international partners, took the initiative of putting in place, under the auspices of the Ministers of Information and Culture, the National Team for the Archiving and Documentation of Cultural Heritage (NATDACH). NATDACH is intended as a multi-institutional public-private sector framework for the coordination and harmonization of the preservation and digitization of the national cultural heritage of Sudan. It initiated partnerships with universities and institutions from outside Sudan such as King’s College London (thanks to the most appreciated support by Professor Marilyn Deegan), Durham and Emory universities as well as the Carter Center and the World Digital Library (WDL).

NATDACH took part in a number of digitization projects including the following:

• The digitization of Sudan TV, film and photo archive project being supported by DAL Group and Bergen University under the auspices of the Ministries of Information and Culture; • Digitization of the legal archives of the Ministry of Justice; • The Sudan Historical and Cultural Panorama Project supported by Emory University, the Carter Center, Future university and DAL Group; • Contacts with the World Digital Library to select some of the most representative and significant works of Sudanese cultural heritage to be posted on the WDL website; • Attempts to build a national digitization center, in cooperation with the Embassy of Italy in Khartoum.

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