Sahapedia – UNESCO Fellowships launched for research into Indian cultural heritage

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New Delhi: Sahapedia,an open online resource on Indian arts, in partnership with UNESCO, today launched a fellowship programme, to inspire and provide an opportunity for young people to expand their knowledge and encourage documentation of India’s rich cultural heritage.

The Sahapedia-UNESCO Fellowships, available to post-doctoral scholars, doctoral candidates, post-graduates, and graduates (including those students due to graduate in the summer of 2017), is expected to generate critically researched, engaging content in multimedia formats that will be hosted on the Sahapedia website.

Applications are open for the fellowships for 2017, available in two variants – the Sahapedia Project Fellowship (SPF) and the Sahapedia Research Fellowship (SRF), that give the applicant the option of participating either at the level of primary documentation or in the content curation process.

Applicants selected as Sahapedia Project Fellows will be granted an award of Rs. 40,000, and Sahapedia Research Fellows will be offered an award of Rs. 15,000. The SPF project is expected to be completed in 12 weeks, and SRF assignment in8 weeks.
Applications open on 16th June and close on 15th July for 100 available fellowships (80 SRF and 20 SPF) for 2017. More details about the programme, eligibility and application process are available on www.sahapedia.org

Sudha Gopalakrishnan, the Executive Director of Sahapedia, said she hoped for the research to significantly expand both the volume and quality of resources on the Sahapedia website.

“It is a privilege to have the support of an organization like UNESCO for our documentation and conservation efforts. The aim of Sahapedia is to ensure that we are able to preserve in digital form and make freely accessible as much of the vast and diverse body of cultural knowledge in India as possible, especially about the lesser known practices and traditions in India”, she said. “We would look forward to talented and committed young people to take advantage of the fellowships and contribute to the body of research work on Indian culture.”
The Sahapedia – UNESCO Fellowships are a step forward in realizing the goals of the UNESCO 2003 Convention that emphasizes the “importance of the intangible cultural heritage as a mainspring of cultural diversity and a guarantee of sustainable development.”

UNESCO expects the initiative to help widen the network of professionals keen to work in the culture and heritage sector and help them engage with lesser known practices, oral histories, and community knowledge; the research work could potentially open up new areas to explore.

Speaking about the partnership, Moe Chiba, Section Chief and Programme Specialist for Culture, UNESCO, said “The documentation and dissemination of content on heritage are important to create wider public awareness and interest in heritage issues. Sahapedia is a curated online encyclopedia that aims to present a wide range of content on built heritage and intangible culture, and in a variety of formats like text, photos, videos. Through this partnership, we hope to encourage young researchers to generate new and critical content on built and intangible cultural heritage and highlight issues in these areas that require attention or rethinking. As the researchers are expected to look critically into the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India, it will offer new perspectives with regard to the representation of cultural diversity of India.”

“The fellowship will not only help to generate new content on culture/heritage and disseminate it through the online platform Sahapedia, but it also provides a good opportunity to young researchers from different regions in India and smaller towns to engage with culture/heritage issues,” said Vaibhav Chauhan, Director at Sahapedia.