Courtyard of a Coptic church in Egypt
Courtyard of a Coptic church in Egypt. It is courtyards such as these that provide a safe but public spaces for Copts to gather. ©

Mariz Tadros, IDS

We are pleased to award the Conserving Egyptian Coptic culture project £331,767

This two year project will create an archive of contemporary Coptic intangible cultural heritage whilst building local communities' capacity for long term heritage preservation. 

The Coptic community of Egypt 

Copts are the largest religious minority in the Middle East, and the largest Christian community in the region. Copts date back to approximately 48AD when Christianity is believed to have been brought to Egypt by St Mark the Evangelist. The Coptic Orthodox Church has a population of at least 7 million.

Violence and discrimination against the Coptic communities has intensified in recent years, with targeted attacks and destruction of their heritage. Warnings have been issued against places where Copts congregate, putting activities where Copts express their cultural heritage under direct threat (festivals, religious pilgrimages etc.) 

Creating a visual archive of contemporary Coptic intangible heritage

In this project, a local advisory group will identify 12 Coptic communities to be studied. ‘Heritage Capturers’ will then work to identify, capture, document and preserve the intangible cultural heritage of these communities. An estimated 192 records will be created, accompanied by photograph and audio recordings, 16 of which will be made into ‘digital stories’ for public consumption. 

Alongside this work, a programme of advocacy and education will be delivered, targeting Coptic Youth and local development agencies. 

About The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) is a leading global institution for research, teaching and learning, and impact and communications, based at the University of Sussex. Since 1966, IDS has been working with partners to tackle complex development challenges and contribute the evidence, analysis, theory and facilitated learning that can help communities, practitioners and decision-makers at all levels work together for practical, positive change. IDS’ partnership with the University of Sussex supports and accredits their teaching and learning programmes.

Project Partners

Bishopric of Social Services (BLESS) 

Coptic Culture Centre (CCC) 

Coptic Association for Social Care in Minya (CASC) 

University of Sussex (Digital / Sussex Humanities Lab)