The Latest

AC and Yazda Partnership Showcases Cultural Heritage Practices of Religious and Ethnic Minority Community in Iraq

September 21, 2022

Yazda Videos Document Intangible Cultural Heritage Practices and New Heritage Project

The Yazidi community of northern Iraq has taken another significant step in response to the genocidal attacks by the so-called Islamic State in 2014. With the assistance of the Antiquities Coalition, a US-based NGO, and funded by a grant from the United State Agency for International Development, a new program of heritage documentation is releasing its first videos of Yazidi efforts to directly counter attacks on their culture.  

A group of videomakers at Yazda, a Yazidi social and cultural services organization, has received training and guidance in the documentation of intangible cultural heritage from the AC, and is recording and archiving the music, stories, religious practices, and family life of the community. Their first video is a look at this program of intangible heritage documentation, which permanently documents these cultural practices.

The second video documents another program from the Yazda/AC/USAID team. “Ray of the Sun” is a project that brings together young Yazidis and community cultural leaders to teach the history, stories, and culture of the community to the younger generation. Classes take place in displaced person camps and community facilities across northern Iraq and are designed to ensure that the Yazidi have heard the stories and understand the cultural practices of their community.

These efforts record and preserve the cultural practices that define the Yazidi community – the community that ISIS sought to end. 

According to Ismail Issa, the program manager at Yazda, “This program is critically important for the Yazidi people. ISIS attacked us to eradicate us and our culture. With our partners at the Antiquities Coalition and USAID, we are making sure that our culture is understood by our children – who can ensure that it will live on.”

“Our Yazda colleagues have learned the video production and intangible cultural heritage video documentation techniques remarkably quickly and well,” says Antiquities Coalition Co-founder Peter Herdrich, the project director. “We are proud to be working in service to them and to these critical heritage preservation goals.”

Yazda will make scores of videos available to the local community, to the extensive Yazidi diaspora, and to interested people around the world via their YouTube channel early next year in their effort to ensure their culture will never disappear. 

Learn more about the project here.

Watch both videos below.

Documenting Yazidi Cultural Heritage

Ray of the Sun