Geospatial platforms and immersive tools for social cohesion: the 4D narrative of architecture of Australia’s Afghan cameleers

Md Mizanur Rashid, Kaja Antlej

Abstract

This paper focuses on examining the scope of virtual architectural archaeology in forms of digital geospatial platforms and immersive tools such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) to be used for achieving social cohesion, particularly in a multicultural and multi-ethnic society like Australia’s. In the context of the current global and national concern about Muslims and Islam, as well as for the mistrust towards and distance between Muslims and Non-Muslims in Australia, it is imperative to delve deeper into the contribution of early Muslim pioneers, in this case, the Afghan Cameleers, in the social fabric of colonial Australia. Based on the premise that architecture could be a unique and revealing research frame to gain insight into human values, worldview and material culture, the main aim of this paper is to address two key issues using virtual architectural archaeology. Firstly, to demonstrate the application of 4D capturing and component-based modelling with metadata and paradata regarding the past of the lost architectural heritage sites in remote central and western Australia, also counting on assets such as Linked Open Data (LOD) for further dissemination and use. Secondly, to propose a mode to disseminate new knowledge through digital platforms and VR/AR experiences to the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) audiences and schools regarding the Muslims in Australia. Understanding properly them and their contribution to the Australian society would eventually minimise the cultural distance between Muslims and Non-Muslims in Australia. Greater awareness could mitigate the myth of fear and mistrust regarding Muslims and Islam, widely misunderstood for a long time.

Highlights:

  • Architectural-archaeological heritage as a tool for achieving social cohesion and to minimise cultural/social differences between Muslims and non-Muslims in Australia.

  • 4D capturing and digital geospatial platforms for contextualising architectural-archaeological heritage in a spatial and chronological way.

  • Gamified and non-gamified Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) applications to engage the general public with architectural-archaeological heritage from remote, hard-to-access areas.


Keywords

architectural archaeology; Afghan cameleers; 4D capturing; digital platforms; virtual reality (VR)

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