It Looks Good on Paper: Conserving Zabid's Manuscripts and Intellectual History

By Anne Regourd
Submitted to Session P3698 (Yemen's Cultural Crisis: Catastrophe or Opportunity?, 2014 Annual Meeting
19th-21st Centuries;
In Zabīd, a project for safeguarding the manuscripts in private libraries (PZ) was set up in 2001 by the CEFAS under my scientific direction. Since 2011, actions conducted within the frame of the PZ are very much diminished, but other manuscript-related activities in the city, while they have decreased, have not ceased.
In the first place, the awareness of their cultural heritage (and in particular manuscripts) among local people and PZ staff, and their determination to keep it in the locality, explain this: it was thus before the PZ, was so at the inception of the PZ, and is so today.
Secondly, the PZ aimed to train a team to work to international standards in cataloguing, digitization (especially watermarked papers) and basic conservation actions in order to insure that autonomous safeguarding actions could continue in Zabīd and its region after the PZ closed.
Very recently material was dispatched from France to Zabīd, where the trained team had started to work on basic conservation. In the light of this experience, this paper aims to examine the various types of action which can be collaboratively conducted in support of autonomous local actions for safeguarding the Cultural heritage (especially manuscripts) in Yemen.