Tolerant Futures through Ancient Identities

This education training resource has been designed as part of the Co-producing Tolerant Futures through Ancient Identities project, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The project is led by the University of Edinburgh together with Durham University, in partnership with nine heritage museums and sites across Britain.

Co-Producing Tolerant Futures aims to expose and challenge divisive uses of the Iron Age and Roman past uncovered during the Ancient Identities in Modern Britain project (2016-2019, AHRC-funded). Findings from this project showed that the Iron Age and Roman periods are often presented through dichotomies and exaggerated caricatures in formal and free-choice learning environments in Britain. The research also suggested that, later on in their adult life, people draw on these early impressions and dualistic understandings of the past to justify antagonism towards particular groups defined on the basis of ethnicity, culture and race.

Co-Producing Tolerant Futures through Ancient Identities challenges these uses by developing the Chatterpast education training resources to promote more nuanced and less binary interpretation of the Iron Age and Roman past at heritage venues and in primary school classrooms.

The project also created a digital experience for adults, through which to share how your own views of the past and present are connected and reflect on those of other participants.

Visit the Tolerant Futures Digital Experience.

A brief report (pdf) of the project will be available here once the project evaluation is complete.

Core research team

Heritage partners

Advisory Group

Story development

The concept behind the education training resources was co-produced by the core team and the heritage partners. Dr Kate Sharpe (Durham University) led on the development of characters, illustrations and chat script with input from and in collaboration with the project partners and core team members. Support with storytelling was provided by Dr Stephe Harrop (Liverpool Hope University).

Technical Development

The chatbot story has been created using the nonlinear storytelling tool Twine and the story format Trialogue, developed by Philo van Kemenade. The Trialogue story format makes the user experience of the story similar to that of a messaging app such as WhatsApp or Signal. Chat messages can contain any media that is embeddable on the web, such as text, images or videos. Story authors can also customise the look and feel of the story, through features such as custom sidebar content, character avatars and a colour scheme.

Twine, Trialogue and Chatterpast are free and open source-softwares. You can study, copy and remix their source code to create your own stories. To get started creating your own chat story in Twine using Trialogue, see this Trialogue Guide.

Anyone can use Twine and Trialogue. To quote the creators of Twine:

You don't need to write any code to create a simple story with Twine, but you can extend your stories with variables, conditional logic, images, CSS, and JavaScript when you're ready.

Twine publishes directly to HTML, so you can post your work nearly anywhere. Anything you create with it is completely free to use any way you like, including for commercial purposes.