Nashville Copts: Cultural Identity, Community Collaboration, and Cultural Institutions

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Knight, Callie
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Middle Tennessee State University
My thesis, Nashville Copts: Cultural Identity, Community Collaboration, and Cultural Institutions, examines the necessity of collaboration between museums and surrounding communities using oral histories to facilitate engagement and investment. I also attempt to show how museums and other cultural institutions can work with minority communities, like the Copts in Nashville, to foster greater understanding between ethnic and immigrant groups and the rest of the Nashville community. I conducted oral histories with members of the Coptic immigrant community in Nashville to demonstrate this collaboration. This thesis addresses the uses and best practices of oral histories, Coptic cultural identity and immigration, Public History theories about shared authority and representation, different learning types and needs for exhibition, and the history of the Coptic Church and people. By understanding how the process of conducting oral histories builds community relationships and promotes collaboration, project organizers and museum professionals can better represent surrounding ethnic and minority communities.
Community collaboration, Community engagement, Coptic Christians, Minority communities, Museum education, Oral history