Kennesaw: The first of its kind online exhibition about understanding of Islam in the context of different cultures is going to be organized by the Kennesaw State University, Museum of History and Holocaust Education (MHHE) on 11 of this month.
MHHE will organize the online exhibition at the KSU Centre under the banner of “Identities: Understanding Islam in a Cross-Cultural Context” which will aim at bringing about cultural understanding in the American society.
The organizers of the online exhibition hope that they will succeed in exploring the Moroccan and American identities through photographs, oral histories, conversations and personal reflections on the especially-created website for this project.
A grant of $78,000 in last July from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and American Association of Museums made the organization of online exhibit possible. The MHHE was one of only two institutions to receive the grant renewal as part of the AAM’s Museums & Community Collaborations Abroad program.
“Identities” builds on a previous $72,000 MCCA grant that connected student teams from MHHE and the Ben M’Sik Community Museum of Hassan II University in Casablanca, Morocco.
The two museums collected more than 60 oral histories in their communities in 2009 and 2010 and hosted “Coffee and Conversation” programs with students and community members. The programs gave them learning about life experiences of Muslims living in the American South as well as Moroccan Muslims in the largely immigrant community of Ben M’sik, Casablanca.
The MHHE curator, Julia Brock, commented, “It’s a great reflection of the Moroccan and Kennesaw State University students’ work.”
“We wanted to have a place to showcase the oral histories they’ve done and data they collected at the “Coffee and Conversations.” But we also wanted to explore identity and we did that mainly through a photography project,” she added.
Students from both groups created a collection of photographs centered on themes of identity, migration, belonging and community.
The MHHE Education and Outreach Coordinator, Richard Harker, said, “As people went around Kennesaw or Atlanta, but also Casablanca, they were also taking photos based on these themes to talk about what their identity meant to them.”
He said, “Findings from the project show that Southerners and Moroccans have more commonalities than they may realize, such as placing importance on family, traditions, food and faith.”
KSU graduate, Stefanie Green and senior Chris Harris participated in the project, including traveling to Morocco, and said it served as an eye-opening experience for both of them.
Harris, who is studying American history, said he hopes people from all over the world will visit the new website and submit their own viewpoints and personal stories.
Green, 2009 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in history, said, “I hope that people come away with a broadening of their understanding of what they think of people who are different from them.”
“I’m originally from New York and I think of myself as broad-minded. That changed when I went somewhere else and I realized I had perceptions of people,” he concluded.