Rising from the Depths Network: A Challenge-Led Research Agenda for Marine Heritage and Sustainable Development in Eastern Africa

Jon Henderson , C Breen, Luciana Estevez, Annamaria La Chimia, Paul Lane, Solange Macamo, Garry Marvin, Stephanie Wynne-Jones

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The Rising from the Depths (RftD) network aims to identify the ways in which Marine Cultural Heritage (MCH) can contribute to the sustainable development of coastal communities in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Madagascar. Although the coastal and marine heritage of eastern Africa is a valuable cultural and environmental resource, it remains largely unstudied and undervalued and is subject to significant threat from natural and anthropogenic processes of change. This paper outlines the aims of the RftD network and describes the co-creation of a challenge-led research and sustainability programme for the study of MCH in eastern Africa. Through funding 29 challenge-led research projects across these four Global South countries, the network is demonstrating how MCH can directly benefit East African communities and local economies through building identity and place-making, stimulating resource-centred alternative sources of income and livelihoods, and enhancing the value and impact of overseas aid in the marine sector. Overall, Rising from the Depths aims to illustrate that an integrated consideration of cultural heritage, rather than being a barrier to development, should be positioned as a central facet of the transformative development process if that development is to be ethical, inclusive and sustainable
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1026-1048
Number of pages23
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 22 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Rising from the Depths (RftD) is a four-year interdisciplinary network project funded by the United Kingdom Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) through the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The GCRF is a £1.5 billion fund, drawn from the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment, which was created in late 2015 to support research projects that use interdisciplinary academic expertise to address challenges faced by developing countries. GCRF projects establish equal partnerships between UK researchers and researchers in countries across the Global South to promote research which underpins the welfare and economic development of countries on the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) eligibility list. In order to become eligible for such funding, research must have a ‘main objective which is directly and primarily relevant to the problems of developing countries’ [8]. The network originally came together as a consortium of Global North and Global South universities at the instigation of the lead PI and Co-Is in order to develop an application for the fund. Through a subsequent programme of outreach and engagement led by university-based researchers, a broader network beyond academic was established involving government partners, NGOs and community groups.

Funding Information:
Figure 3. Distribution of projects funded through Rising from the Depths.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Africa
  • Sustainable development
  • Marine cultural heritage
  • Kenya
  • Tanzania
  • Mozambique
  • Madagascar
  • Maritime archaeology


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