iCHeriSH is an online resource for South Asian cultural heritage documentation, education and dissemination financed by the Italian Ministry for Universities (MUR) and based at the University of Naples “L’Orientale” (Naples) and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice.
The project has been conceived in the framework of the social disruption created globally by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has also affected university education, making e-learning a requirement. The platform, in the form of a mobile app (initially android, next phase iPhone) and a webapp, aims to provide a cultural/pragmatic response for this and any future disruptions by creating a flexible tool for education, training, research and dissemination activities, at the same time improving the quality of online didactic material against the spread of misinformation on the internet.
Available only for students, researchers and teachers in the first stage, it eventually aims to be an online multimedia exhibition space for a “crowdsourcing” of the ancient South Asian tangible and intangible heritage (archeology, epigraphy, history and side histories). The project covers modern geographical areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan as well as other countries that may have with the latter cultural and historic links (Tibet, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand etc.), and aims to grow as a collaborative network with the objective of the involvement of other universities and research units, especially from the target countries, also in order to:
- incentivize interactive learning as well as experience in developing and cataloguing resources for digital humanities by engaging students in the creation of contents;
- assist archaeological missions in publicizing their work as a source of updating grounded in the best scientific evidence;
- assist universities in conflict/post conflict realities to train their students in documentation of cultural heritages highly exposed to the risks for loss;
- assist documentation of neglected or unprotected sites/artefacts as a tool for contrasting robbery and illicit trafficking of cultural property;
- open up an experimental space of encounters between academic studies and local histories, by engaging local communities in innovative processes of knowledge creation and sharing dedicated to the pluri-stratified “biography” of cultural heritage, in a participatory "Third Mission" approach. (the University's social and community outreach program)
- Initiate an innovative crowd-sourcing method at conserving historic material and promoting the engagement of youth in it as well as the use of social media in the dissemination of the same.