US/ICOMOS Launches UNESCO Slave Route Project Initiative

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The Slave Route Project started in 1994, and was an initiative designed to encourage Member States to inventory, protect and promote these memorial sites and places and to include them in national and regional tourism itineraries. The project has three main objectives: the first is to contribute to a better understanding of the causes, forms of operation, issues and consequences of slavery in the world; the second is to highlight the global transformations and cultural interactions that have resulted from this history; and lastly to contribute to a culture of peace by promoting reflection on cultural pluralism, intercultural dialogue and the construction of new identities and citizenships.
The current aim of the Project is to discuss achievements and new perspectives, in particular with the actions which need to be taken in regards to the framework of the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024) as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly. The Slave Route project is also connected to other UN and UNESCO initiatives, which also include the General History of Africa and the Slave Trade Archives. It is a key time to encourage and engage historic sites to be more involved with the project and to add a context of international collaboration.
The goal of US/ICOMOS has been to research and create a create a list, or bibliography, of various US initiatives, programs, exhibits, and collaborations related to various aspects of the Slave Route Project over the past five years, along with a contact database of people, historic sites, and institutions. From this list, we can begin to understand how cultural heritage and historic sites here can further advance the Project. These collaborative efforts can include joint exhibits, research assistance, or connections found between two sites through the enslaved community.
The Project is a way to tell the stories of people who have come from various backgrounds, and had brought along and passed down distinctly different cultural traditions or practices, some of which can still be seen today. Telling these diverse stories and sharing these diverse practices is part of a broader context of what makes America today and connects people to various communities around the globe. The goal is to create a path towards new interpretation and public engagement regarding the topic of slavery and the slave trade. By understanding the work that has been done, we can work towards creating a framework for guidelines and developing a platform for historic sites to share best management practices for interpretation on slavery and the slave trade. This in turn can provide guidance to small historic house museums, sites, monuments, and managers/curators on how to research and demonstrate an international context to the history of slavery at their site. Our aim is to connect diasporic, diverse American communities whose heritage draws context and meaning from places outside the US to international research, resources and experts on those places. For more information, please visit: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/culture/themes/dialogue/the-slave-route.

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