Amgueddfa Blog: Ymgysylltu â'r Gymuned

لو  كنتُ في سجن حقيقي.. وكان هناك خمسون سجين سيكون عندي مالايقل عن خمسة أصدقاء… ولكن أنظري الى حالتي هنا… لايوجد أحد حولي…

If I was in a real prison… say there are fifty prisoners in one room, you would at least make friends with five of them… But here, look at my situation. There is no one around.

Salih, Cardiff, 2020


Towards the end of 2019, I began working as a Research Associate at the AHRC funded project “Refugee Wales: The Aftermath of Violence”. The project is a partnership between Cardiff University and Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales. Its aim is to record the stories of refugees in Wales, inform Welsh government of what we’ve learnt from them, and archive them as part of the national collections. My role is to record interviews with Syrian refugees who have settled in Wales since 2011.

I am an Arabic-speaking Iraqi and new to Wales myself, so my first challenge was finding willing participants from the Syrian community. Once I had been introduced via a gatekeeper, I started meeting potential participants to gain their trust and confidence and to explain the project further. Establishing a relationship of trust with people whose lives have been in turmoil is not straightforward. My days were ebbing and flowing between positive and negative responses, encouraging and disappointing reactions, scheduling and rescheduling of appointments, rejections and last-minute cancellations. I succeeded in completing my first interviews in February 2020 and had others planned. Then came the COVID-19 lockdown on 23rd March. 

When it became obvious that this situation would last some time, we decided reluctantly to experiment with remote interviewing. One of our team, Beth Thomas, is an OHS trainer who advised us, after discussion with her colleagues, on the options available. Our choice of method was decided on the following principle: that it should be as simple and secure as possible for the interviewees. We used a mobile phone connected to one channel of a Zoom H5 recorder, with the other channel recording the interviewer via a clip-on mike.

It seemed straightforward. Nevertheless, I struggled with the number of wired connections. I experimented with family and friends.  I wondered what kind of interview it would be if I was unable to see my participants. I also wondered how my interviewees would feel about not seeing me. How could I expect the participants to be at ease telling their life stories to someone they are unable to see?

The other option was to connect the Zoom H5 in the same way to the audio output of a computer, to record the audio only of a Zoom video interview. This made more sense to me as it would enable me and the interviewees to see one another. However, most of my participants were unhappy with this option because they either didn’t have a computer, had no access to Zoom, or they had problems with WiFi. 

It quickly became clear that almost all my participants were happier using WhatsApp on their smartphones, as this was how they normally connected with their families overseas. WhatsApp allowed us to conduct video interviews while recording audio locally on the Zoom H5, using the same setup as before. The only drawback was bandwidth and WiFi reception. I had some remote WhatsApp interviews which went well, with reasonable sound quality, and a disastrous one because I was unaware of how bad the WiFi was at the interviewee’s end. Other challenges ranged from dealing with the noise of children at the interviewee’s house, street noise, postmen and deliveries at my door or their door, my next-door neighbour’s loud music and my smoke alarm going off whenever my daughter burnt her eggs! 

In some ways, the pandemic strangely helped strengthen my relationship with interviewees. I have even developed strong bonds with some of my participants which transcended social distancing rules and highlighted our common vulnerability as human beings. They were more than mere research subjects but persons who need to be listened to and be supported in a very difficult stage of their resettlement. However, that involvement occasionally made it difficult to draw the line between supporting others and protecting yourself.

Salih was introduced to me as a Syrian refugee who met my requirements for project participants. All I knew about Salih was that he was a Syrian-Kurd who was resettled in Cardiff a few months before the first lockdown. I introduced myself over the phone and asked if he was interested in an initial remote meeting. Salih interrupted me saying: “I wish you could visit me and my wife in our house. I am in a wheelchair and my wife has some health problems. We only have one person who comes to check on us and brings us groceries… When our Home Office Caseworker comes for a visit, he talks to us through the living room window, hands us documents to sign, asks a couple of questions and leaves… We barely talk to people.” He became very emotional and asked me to help him reunite with the rest of his family who had been relocated in Germany. I explained to Salih that I was a researcher with no hand in policy making. Despite this, he was determined to be part of the project and have his voice heard.  

The phone call upset me. My inability to improve his situation made me ashamed of asking someone like Salih, who was painfully lonely, to narrate his personal story of suffering and survival remotely. Next morning, I called Salih and asked if he and his wife were happy for me to visit them wearing a facemask and maintaining social distance. We agreed to meet the following day. 

After taking all the necessary precautions; wipes, a facemask, Covid-19 declaration forms etc. I went to Salih’s house.  Salih opened the door while leaning on his walking frames. He greeted me in his Arabic-Kurdish accent and led me into a dark first -floor flat, with one small window being their opening to the outside world. Salih’s wife sat on a small mattress on the floor. She had hardly any Arabic but could understand some of what I was saying as I saw her nodding at times. She made us a tasty Syrian coffee and uttered few words in Kurdish which Salih translated to me as: “I am so pleased to have a guest for whom I can offer coffee again as I used to!”

It was a short, emotional and tiring interview. I have kept in touch with them and have promised to revisit once lockdown is lifted. But I feel heavily burdened with helplessness, sorrow, and anger at their situation. 

We are talking through virtual windows, barely touching the lives of those beyond the pane.

I can trace the origin of this project, Refugee Wales, to 2009 when the civil war in Sri Lanka came to a bloody end when the government forces defeated the LTTE (Tamil Tigers).  The stories of the immense suffering of the Sri Lankan Tamil civilians flooded the media and, then, these stories disappeared.  Being an Indian Tamil myself, I followed the news of the final days of the civil war obsessively as these were narratives of my “cousins” in South Asia, and we were linked by language, culture, religion, food habits, mythology, families, and  with a commonality of memories and practices.  It is estimated that between 100,000-200,000 Sri Lankan Tamils live in the UK, with a large number of them arriving as refugees from 1983 onwards.  The civil war in Sri Lanka lasted, off and on, for over 5 decades and Sri Lankan refugees who arrived in this country have lived here for more  than 2 generations.  

No sooner had the Sri Lankan civil war ended, then the Syrian civil war began in 2011 and it is still ongoing. The war has currently resulted in over 13 million Syrians who have been either internally displaced within Syria, or in neighbouring countries, or in Europe and the rest of the world.  Germany has over 800,000 Syrian refugees and the UK, a paltry 18,000-20,000 of them in 2021. The body count of Syrians who have died in this exodus is still not fully accounted for and the bottom of the Mediterranean sea, which is considered to be the deadliest migration route for refugees, has become a graveyard for them.  

Neither the Sri Lankan Tamil nor the Syrian refugees sought refuge in the UK so they could shop in Tesco and take jobs away from the locals.  They left their countries under desperate circumstances—the daily bombings, the kidnapping of children (and youth) by rebel soldiers forcing them into becoming child soldiers, the rape of women and children, the loss of jobs, homes, family members—spouses, children, parents, siblings--the lack of food, safety, and a full night’s sleep; it was the precarity of life.  

In Homo Sacer, the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben points to the distinction made by the Ancient Greeks between bios (the form or manner in which life is lived and which assesses the richness of life) and zoë (the biological fact of life) and suggests that in contemporary life that distinction has collapsed.  So, life now only means bare life, zoë.  The biological fact of life with all its potentialities and possibilities has been erased.  For the French philosopher Michel Foucault, modern power is about “fostering life or disallowing it.”  This is how civilian populations in Sri Lanka and Syria were perceived by their governments—a full life disallowed for some of its citizens so that they are reduced to a bare life, their only possibility being to flee.  This is how refugees are perceived in the current political climate with hostile environment policies, to be seen as only deserving of a bare life, to show how unwelcome they are.  

If by moving away from their country results in a total and complete break from their past lives for the refugees, a rupture from their histories and cultures, what this project hopes to achieve is to allow refugees to connect their past to their present, give them a voice, and a sense of belonging and that people are, indeed, witnessing their trials.  The Museum with the richness of cultural life that it offers, through its resources, will assist in enabling refugees to become citizens of Wales, and help them to transform their lives in the country that is now their home; it will facilitate and contribute to them leading their lives into the fullest of its potentialities and possibilities.  

And those of us who already live in Wales, how will these newcomers change our lives? By hearing their stories, we, too, will reach further into our potentiality, of the richness of diversity, compassion, being good hosts and helping them go through their transformation and, in so doing, initiate new ways of being and becoming Welsh.

How to Name Nature

My Professional Training Year placement in the Natural Sciences Department at National Museum Cardiff has been going for a few months now and we are making great progress! We have gotten to the stage where it is time to name the new species of shovel head worm (Magelonidae) that we have spent many months describing and drawing. Shovel head worms are a type of marine bristle worm.

So, the big question is, how exactly do scientists name the new species they discover? 

All species are named using a system called binomial nomenclature, also known as the two-term naming system. This system is primarily credited to Carl Linnaeus in 1753 but there is evidence suggesting the system was used as early as 1622 by Gaspard Bauhin. You will know them as the Latin names for organisms or scientific names. These names are firstly formed of a generic name, identifying the genus the species belongs to and a specific name, identifying the species. For example, the binomial name for humans is Homo sapiensHomo is the genus, which also includes our ancestors like the Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) but if you want to specifically refer to modern humans you add the species name, sapiens. So, Homo sapiens is what you get.

Today, binomial nomenclature is primarily governed by two internationally agreed code of rules, the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) and the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICNafp). Across the two codes the rules are generally the same but with slight differences. As my work focuses on naming animals, I will focus on the rules set out by the ICZN.

The first step in naming a new species is figuring out exactly what to name it after. There are generally 3 main ways to pick a name.

Firstly, you can pick a physical trait of the animal. This trait usually makes it stand out from the other species in its genus. This is my preferred method of naming because it gives people an impression of what it is like just by its name. For example, European robins are given the binomial name Erithacus rubecula and rubecula is derived from the Latin ruber, meaning red which emphasises the robin’s iconic red breast.

An example of a shovel head worm with a name like this is Magelona cepiceps, translating from the Latin cepa for onion and ceps referring to the head. This relates to the shape of the ‘head’ (prostomium) of the worm resembling an onion!

Secondly, you could name the new species after the place it was discovered. It’s not as descriptive as naming the animal after a physical feature but tells you where you may find it. The binomial name for the Canada Goose is Branta canadensis, displaying that although the bird is a common sight in many places thanks to its introduction, it is originally from Canada.

A shovel head worm with a regional scientific name is Magelona mahensis, indicating that it is from the island of Mahé in the Seychelles.

 

 

 

 

Lastly, you can name it after someone. Of course, a person’s first instinct might be to try and name a species after themselves. The ICZN doesn’t have a rule explicitly against this but it is seen as a sign of vanity. But perhaps if you name enough species in your field, eventually someone may name a species after you. This is my least favourite way to name species because it may not tell you anything about the species at all, but it is nice to give honour to those that are important to us or those who have put in a lot of work in the field. For example, in honour of Sir David Attenborough’s 90th birthday a dragonfly was named after him, taking the name Acisoma attenboroughi. Attenborough has inspired so many scientists that he has around 34 species named after him currently. There is a shovel head worm named Magelona johnstoni which is named after Dr George Johnston, one of the first scientists to describe shovel head worms.

While the names can be taken from words in any language they must be spelt out in the Roman alphabet, ensuring they can be universally read. Many binomial names are formed of words from ancient Greek but have been Latinised. Typically, if you have selected a physical feature it is translated into Greek or Latin. There are several books specifically written for helping scientists translate and create new species names.

To Latinise the name, you have selected you have to make sure it follows the rules of Latin grammar. This is where it gets a little complicated as you have to start considering the genus name of the species. Latin has masculine, feminine and neutral words, you can tell this by how the word ends. The gender of the genus name will affect the ending and gender of your species name.

And with that information you are just about ready to name your species!

It might seem like a lot of things to consider when you are naming a new species, believe me I never expected to know this much about Latin grammar! But these rules are incredibly important to ensure we can orderly name and keep track of each of the fascinating organisms that are discovered and allows everyone to universally understand which animals scientists are talking about. Especially when you consider that there are over 12,000 known marine bristleworms globally and that number is increasing.

Once all of the drawings and descriptions are complete, the scientific paper goes through a peer-reviewed process where other experts in the field consider your decision to describe and name the new species. If the reviewers agree the species is formally described and those that were involved are now the species authorities. In scientific journals the species name will be written down followed by the names of those who described it and the year it was described. So, while you might not name a species after yourself, whenever the species is mentioned you will get recognition for the work you have done.

So, what will our new species be called?........Well, you’ll have to stay tuned to find out........

Heddiw, mae Cymru’n genedl fodern, amlethnig, amlddiwylliannol, ac mae llawer o’n teulu, ffrindiau a chyd Gymry wedi’u gwasgaru ledled y byd. Rydyn ni wedi bod yn byw trwy amseroedd digynsail, mae ein byd yn newid. Felly wrth i Ddydd Gŵyl Ddewi agosáu, rydyn ni am weld os yw hunaniaeth Gymreig yn newid hefyd.

Rydym yn colli’ch croesawu i oriel Cymru yn Sain Ffagan Amgueddfa Werin Cymru lle rydym yn archwilio hunaniaeth Gymreig ac yn gofyn ichi rannu eich syniadau amdani, felly hoffem glywed gennych yn fawr iawn. Gofynwn i chi rhoi UN GAIR i ni – dim ond UN GAIR i ddisgrifio Cymru neu Gymreictod ar hyn o bryd. Gallai fod yn beth, yn emosiwn, yn lliw, beth bynnag ydyw i chi, nawr.

Un Gair am Gymru

Rydym am wybod a yw pethau megis cennin Pedr neu gawl neu gysyniadau fel ‘hiraeth’ neu ‘cwtch’ yn ein cynrychioli ni o hyd, neu a oes yna bethau a theimladau eraill sy’n dod i’r amlwg fel eiconau neu fel syniadau am Gymru gyfoes.

Mae gennym ddiddordeb mewn clywed gan bawb ac unrhyw un sy’n byw yng Nghymru, neu unrhyw un sy’n uniaethu fel Cymry – o ba bynnag gefndir ethnig neu ddiwylliannol, waeth ble rydych chi’n byw yn y byd ar hyn o bryd.

Byddwn yn casglu’ch holl eiriau gyda’i gilydd ac yn gwneud rhywbeth hardd gyda nhw i’w rannu gyda chi ychydig cyn Dydd Gŵyl Ddewi.

Mae croeso i chi drydar eich gair neu greu Instagram i’w rannu, ond cofiwch ychwanegu’r hashnod #gairamgymru i’ch post fel y gallwn ddod o hyd iddo a’i gynnwys yn ein hymatebion. Fel arall, e-bostiwch eich gair atom gan ddefnyddio: ungairamgymru@amgueddfacymru.ac.uk.

A chofiwch rannu hyn gyda ffrindiau a theulu ledled Cymru ac ar draws y byd.

Lansiodd Arddangosfa Gobaith Amgueddfa Wlân Cymru ym mis Ebrill 2020, ar ddechrau’r cyfnod clo cenedlaethol. Nod y project yw creu sgwariau lliw enfys 8” neu 20cm gan ddefnyddio hoff dechneg y crefftwr – gweu, ffeltio, gwehyddu neu grosio. Bydd y sgwariau wedyn yn cael eu rhoi at ei gilydd gan wirfoddolwyr Amgueddfa Wlân Cymru gan greu carthen enfys enfawr a gaiff ei arddangos yn yr Amgueddfa ac yn Amgueddfa Genedlaethol y Glannau, Abertawe. Yn dilyn yr arddangosfa caiff carthenni llai eu creu o’r garthen enfawr a’u rhoi i elusennau amrywiol.

Hoffem ddweud diolch yn fawr i bawb sydd wedi cyfrannu at y project hyd yn hyn, mae’r ymateb wedi bod yn anhygoel ac rydym wedi derbyn dros 670 o sgwariau o bob cwr o’r wlad! Rydym yn ddiolchgar am bob sgwâr a dderbyniwn, ynghyd â’ch negeseuon caredig a dymuniadau gorau. Mae’n hyfryd clywed bod cynifer ohonoch wedi teimlo bod creu’r sgwariau hyn wedi helpu yn ystod y cyfnod digynsail a heriol hwn. Er nad oes modd i ni gyfarfod, rydym yn un mewn ysbryd, gobaith a chymuned.

Aeres Ingram yw ein cyfrannwr mwyaf toreithiog ar hyn o bryd, mae hi wedi gwau 70 sgwâr ar gyfer y flanced! Wrth siarad am y prosiect, meddai:

"roedd gwau’r sgwariau ar gyfer y flanced enfys wedi fy helpu'n fawr yn ystod y cyfnod clo ac fe roddodd ymdeimlad o berthyn a chyflawniad i mi, gan wybod fy mod yn ymwneud â rhywbeth pwysig a hefyd helpu rhai mewn angen. Edrychaf ymlaen at weld y darnau wedi’u gwnïo gyda’i gilydd a’r flanced orffenedig."

Cafodd Arddangosfa Gobaith ei chynnwys yn Wythnos Addysg Oedolion a rhyddhawyd dau fideo o’r Grefftwraig Non Mitchell yn dangos sut i greu sgwâr wedi’i ffeltio a’i wehyddu. Os hoffech greu sgwar, gymrwch olwg ar rhain:


  

Rhannodd elusen Crisis (de Cymru), sy’n cefnogi pobl ddigartref, wybodaeth am Arddangosfa Gobaith ar eu tudalennau Facebook a chreu pecynnau yn cynnwys gwlân a chyfarwyddiadau i’w hanfon at ddefnyddwyr y gwasanaeth i’w helpu i gymryd rhan.

Lluniwyd y sgwariau hynod gain mewn lliwiau, arddulliau, pwythau, a chynlluniau amrywiol. Dyma hanes rhai o’r sgwariau a’u crefftwyr...

Sgwâr lliw enfys wedi'i wau o wlân wedi'i liwio â llifynnau naturiol ar gyfer y flanced obaith

Crewyd y sgwâr hwn gan ein Gwirfoddolwr Gardd Susan Martin. Mae Susan wedi troellli edafedd ei hun a’i liwio’n naturiol. Mae’r lliwiau enfys yn dod o gymysgu glaslys, llysiau lliw a’r gwreiddrudd gwyllt â gwyn i greu effaith ysgafnach a brethynnog, gellir dod o hyd i’r holl blanhigion hyn yng Ngardd Lliwurau Amgueddfa Wlân Cymru. Derbyniodd Gardd Lliwurau Naturiol yr Amgueddfa Wobr Gymunedol y Faner Werdd sy’n newyddion arbennig! Mae rhagor o wybodaeth am yr Ardd Liwurau ar ein gwefan.

Sgwâr o liwiau'r enfys wedi'i wau ar gyfer y flanced obaith

Lluniwyd y sgwâr hwn gan y Gwirfoddolwr Crefft Cristina gan ddefnyddio’r edafedd cyntaf a wnaed gan y Cynorthwyydd Amgueddfa, Stephen Williams, a’r crefftwyr dan hyfforddiant Richard Collins a James Whittall wrth iddynt ddysgu i droelli. Cyfrannodd ymwelwyr yn ogystal at greu’r edafedd, gan gynnwys menyw oedd heb droelli ers ugain mlynedd, plentyn tra byddar, â mam i aelod o staff.

Sgwâr wedi'i weu a logo Amgueddfa Genedlaethol y Glannau arno ar gyfer ein blanced obaith.

Crëwyd y sgwâr hyfryd hwn gyda logo’r Amgueddfa gan Gynorthwyydd Oriel Amgueddfa Genedlaethol y Glannau, Ruth Melton.

Rydyn ni’n edrych ymlaen at groesawu’r Gwirfoddolwyr Crefft yn ôl i’r Amgueddfa y flwyddyn yma a dechrau ar y gwaith o greu’r garthen. Cadwch lygad barcud ar ein gwefan a’n tudalennau cyfryngau cymdeithasol i gael y wybodaeth ddiweddaraf.

Diolch i The Ashley Family Foundation a  Sefydliad Cymunedol Cymru am gefnogaeth gyda’r prosiect.

Y dyddiad cau ar hyn o bryd ar gyfer cyfraniadau yw 31/03/2021. Cliciwch yma am wybodaeth ar sut i gymryd rhan.

Diolch unwaith eto am eich holl gefnogaeth.