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New doctoral student interested in connection between heritage and health

Who chooses which pieces of art a hospital should have, and how does the art interact with the patients’ wellbeing? Two questions that Khaled Ahmed, a doctoral student from Egypt, will try to answer during the coming four years.

Khaled Ahmed is from Cairo, where he used to do volunteer work as a guide: take young Egyptians around local heritage sites.

Khaled Ahmed In Egypt, heritage sites are mainly seen as touristic attractions. Non-Egyptians are the main group which heritage is marketed to. For example, I did many tours at the Egyptian Museum, and the young people did not know that they could go inside the museum. They thought it was only for foreigners! says Khaled Ahmed.

Moved to England

He obtained a scholarship to study abroad and moved to Durham, England, where he acquired his master’s degree in international cultural heritage management. The one and a half year he spent in the UK made him more interested in exploring the connections between heritage – like museum collections, music and paintings – and other aspects of life.

– Many of the things I experienced in the UK made me want to investigate heritage as something that can do more than just generating money, which is how it is looked upon in the Middle East. For example, we had a visiting lecturer who was doing her research on heritage in areas of conflict. She noticed that when an ancient monument is demolished in a Syrian village, the death toll spikes right away. It is a way to discuss heritage in a different view.

Connection between heritage and the public sector

Khaled Ahmed applied for a position as a doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg as a chance to investigate the connection between heritage and the public sector. He arrived in Gothenburg in September, and although the exact plan for his research project is still being formed, one of his aims is to investigate art in hospitals.

– All hospitals these days have artwork on their walls, and I wonder: what are the criteria for choosing the art shown in hospitals? Who decides what is aesthetic or not, or what’s beautiful or not? And how does the wellbeing get affected by art?

– The project has two parts: one theoretical, where I will investigate some of the concepts of the aesthetics, philosophy and history of art, and one practical where I will do interviews with patients, doctors and others.

Khaled Ahmed is a doctoral student in religious studies at the Department of Literature, History of Ideas, trough the EU’s Marie Curie research grant. His supervisor is Professor Ola Sigurdson.