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Merging research, conservation and community engagement: Perspectives from TARA's rock art community projects in Kenya

Gloria Borona (TARA - Trust for African Rock Art, Nairobi, Kenya and National Museum of Kenya, Department of Earth Sciences, Nairobi, Kenya)
Emmanuel Ndiema (Department of Archaeology, National Museum of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya)

Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development

ISSN: 2044-1266

Article publication date: 17 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

Archaeological, palaeontological and geological research has been conducted in Kenya for many years. These research efforts have resulted in exceptional depth of understanding of the region's cultural heritage including those with rock art. Unfortunately, very few of the research programmes have engaged communities as active participants in conservation and consumers of the research findings. The purpose of this paper is to report how collaboration between the National Museums of Kenya and the Trust of African Rock Art (TARA) is creating a link between research, conserving heritage and community engagement.

Design/methodology/approach

An overview of two rock art tourism community projects undertaken by TARA will reveal that engaging communities and disseminating research findings does not only foster preservation of sites but is critical in transforming rock art sites into economic endeavours whose outcomes are providing alternative livelihoods.

Findings

Community engagement remains the only viable way of ensuring long-term conservation of heritage sites going forward.

Originality/value

TARA is the only organization conducting this kind of work in the African continent. This case study therefore, provides authentic information on local community involvement as a conservation strategy in the African context.

Keywords

Citation

Borona, G. and Ndiema, E. (2014), "Merging research, conservation and community engagement: Perspectives from TARA's rock art community projects in Kenya", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 184-195. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCHMSD-04-2013-0012

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited