Soqotra’s forgotten and endangered heritage by Dr Julian Jansen van Rensburg

The island of Soqotra has a rich and ancient history that speaks of millennia long interactions with people from throughout the ancient world. Yet, it remains better known for its unique flora and fauna than its rich cultural heritage. A situation that has only recently begun to change with a revival of interest by international and Soqotri individuals, whose work has begun to outline the complex and diverse cultural heritage of Soqotra. Within this talk he will introduce some of the variety of cultural heritage sites, traditions and practices that have been recorded and highlight the threats that they now face in these times of political and climate change.

Dr Julian Jansen van Rensburg is the leading expert on the cultural heritage of Soqotra and over the last 17 years has been involved in and led numerous research projects and expeditions on the island. During these research expeditions he has identified, recorded and published on the discovery of several new archaeological sites, traditional vessels, and a wealth of other intangible and tangible cultural and natural heritage issues. He has also been instrumental in the training of Soqotri heritage practitioners in the documentation of their intangible and tangible heritage and continues to work in collaboration with a number of different organisations including the World Monuments Fund, The Royal Botanical Garden of Edinburgh, the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage, and National Geographic. Outside of work Julian is a freediving athlete and currently holds a freediving national record.

The lecture may be viewed on our YouTube channel.