Hear from our Summer Student
Summer Placement with the Gibraltar Heritage Trust
By Gianna Stanley.
Growing up in Gibraltar, visiting local heritage was my favourite thing to do during the weekend, whether it was climbing up to the Moorish Castle, visiting the Museum, or going to the Great Siege Exhibitions. I never fully realised how much history these sites had until my placement with the Gibraltar Heritage Trust and the Friends of Gibraltar Heritage Society –for me, they were just intrinsic parts of Gibraltar.
Ironically, it was only when I began A-level History that I realised it was my favourite subject and what I wanted to do at university. This is because I studied the Spanish Civil War for my coursework and was able to relate it back to my grandparent’s history and past. It was this moment that I understood that I was living in a place rich of its own history. I was also immersed into new areas of history – not just wars and violence, but how different cultures experienced events and the social climates of different places during a period. The University of Manchester provides countless opportunities to explore cultural history, so my research project in first year looked at Black carnivals in Britain during the twentieth century and how different social groups experienced them, and my research project in second year focused on war photography of women during the Spanish Civil War and how they were represented in the media. I have also worked as Head of Design of the Manchester Historian to make history both creative and accessible to all university students. It has become apparent to me after two years that my interests lie mainly with popular culture, society, and material history as it allows you to bring forward the underrepresented narratives of the historical person.
I acknowledged that Gibraltar’s history is underrepresented, both in Gibraltar, and abroad. I have been able to explore Gibraltarian history through the cultural and material lens during my placements for the GHT and FoGHS. I have learnt that heritage is not just about our material history; sites, buildings, and monuments, but also about our cultural history; how the Llanito tradition has been formed over the years and what has affected it. Looking through old publications of the Gibraltar Chronicle, El Calpense, and the Gibraltar Post provided evidence of the everchanging cultural traditions of the Gibraltarian person. We are so fortunate to have these archives as they are testament to the opinions and traditions of the culture in which it was formed. I only had the opportunity to look through these because the GHT highlighted their presence, if not, it would have been another area of history that remained unknown to me.
The GHT work extensively to ensure that our beautiful heritage survives for future generations to witness. They also run competitions both within and outside of the schools, they organise school participations, and are focused on captivating the youth’s attention. FoGHS also share this same aim. I have been running social media campaigns for them over Facebook and Instagram as this has proven to be the best way to reach the youth. I have also been fortunate to be able to publish some articles on the matter which I hope have inspired some readers to go out and learn. We believe that targeting the youth is imperative for maintaining our heritage, because they are the future who will continue to preserve it. Without young people, it is hard to imagine a future for our heritage.
Without organisations like these, our heritage and culture could very well be forgotten. We have such a unique narrative in the sense that our heritage is multicultural, and our cultural traditions are founded of this multicultural history. Everywhere you walk in Gibraltar, a snippet of our heritage can be seen, whether it be the numerous guns or the walls that once fortified us. Yet, people still remain unaware about the history that surrounds them. This is why I am keen to write my dissertation about culture, memory, and commemoration in Gibraltar, to not only bring awareness of our history in UK, but also spread it with locals to give them an accessible entry into the world of heritage.
The Trust would like to thank Gianna for her hard work this summer and we wish her all the best as she continues her studies in UK. Also read her artcile for the chronicle 'Culture & Commemoration'.