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Walking with memories in the traditional Omani settlements

Space + The Humanities, Nottingham Trent University, 29.01.2014

Many traditional Omani settlements today remain deserted and in some cases in ruins, and are only inhabited by the memories of their previous inhabitants. The study of these settlements include collecting such memories (i.e. oral history, folklore, traditions) from these inhabitants and owners.

These memories are not just data to aid in the understanding of settlements and their erstwhile inhabitants. As they are told in different ways, reflecting different meaning by different generations which is passed down as knowledge and legacy, they become memories that tell stories. Hence, they not only provide a deeper understanding of the socio-cultural and socio-political meaning, but also the connection the inhabitants had with their settlement. Those memories are triggered sometimes in the inhabitants' minds through specific structures, events, locations or features in the settlements.

The meaning and value of these memories (to the inhabitant and the researcher) have been discussed in the paper along with the results, challenges, concerns and their ambiguous future. Such memories not only form part of our heritage, but they are also key to understanding the sacred relation between man and settlement.

Haitham Al-Abri lecturing
Haitham Al-Abri delivering his lecture. Photo: ArCHIAM, 2014

Haitham al-Abri interviewing erstwhile inhabitants

Haitham al-Abri interviewing erstwhile inhabitants
Haitham Al-Abri interviewing erstwhile inhabitants in Al-Hamra.
Photos: Haitham Al-Abri, 2011

Space+The Humanities