Open Call for Papers  

Association of Critical Heritage Studies Third Biennial Conference

Montreal, Canada, 6-10th June 2016

Session Title: Changing places, changing people? Critical heritage(s) of diaspora, migration and belonging.

Session Organizers: Dr Susannah Eckersley (Newcastle University, England, UK), Professor Ullrich Kockel, Dr Katherine Lloyd, Professor Máiréad Nic Craith (all Heriot-Watt University, Scotland, UK)

Session Abstract:

Much is being made of the perceived breakdown of the nation state, which was historically configured as a “container” of heritage formations, adopting and perusing local traditions where possible but oppressing them where deemed unsuitable. Migration is seen as eroding the rigid boundaries of this configuration, potentially liberating identities and heritages in the process. This session addresses the relationship between critical heritage and redefinitions of self, other, community and place within the contemporary global reality of movement and flux. Diversity and hybridization are usually regarded positively, displacement, alienation, conflict and normative repression negatively; yet is that necessarily so? Heritage can be seen as a tool for discursively drawing boundaries of inclusion and exclusion, but who is doing the drawing, for what purpose, and what difference does that make? Challenging conventional heritage discourses projecting heritage as sited in place(s), and/or attached to specific groups and communities, we invite contributions exploring the various, sometimes conflicting “imagined communities” of heritage by raising critical issues, such as:

  • How do ideas of place and place attachment shape or limit the positions individuals and groups may adopt? What roles do auto-biography, memory and history play in shaping such ideas?
  • How are scales of identity, place and belonging exhibited or influenced differently by both heritage and politics? What transitional identities and redefinitions of self, community, other and place develop in relation to the heritage practices, mediated memories and “past-presencing” of migrants?
  • How do displaced people negotiate community and place in tension between the “here and now” and the “there and then” that shapes their heritage discourse as much as the elite discourse they are confronted with in everyday life?
  • How are contested heritage practices, discourses and associations of ‘authenticity’ negotiated between communities, and what role do official discourses and practices play in alleviating or aggravating these contestations?
  • As displacement is becoming a common experience, what significance do memorates of “roots and routes” have in various socio-historical or geo-political contexts for shaping journeys of return, (re)discovery, pilgrimage or ‘closure’ that figure in heritage tourism?
  • How compatible are notions of cultural citizenship based on parity of esteem with the coexistence of perhaps conflicting heritage discourses? Why is conceptualising conflict as heritage so difficult?
  • Given the continued reality of multi-facetted place attachment, how may migration and displacement be turned into opportunities for re-placing communities and heritages while avoiding the trap of a shallow essentialism, and sanitization of uncomfortable heritages?
  • What is needed to make critical heritage sustainable in a social, political and economic environment in radical flux (migration, climate change, financial crisis, political upheaval and conflict)? How do we decide which heritages should be sustained, who legitimizes these decisions, and to what extent are such questions about merely replacing one elite with the power of definition by another?

We are keen to examine issues such as these from multi- and interdisciplinary perspectives combining theoretical explorations with applied concerns. Along with papers we encourage creative engagement using other formats with a capacity to capture our subject matter, such as artwork, poetry or performance.

Submissions for papers or posters should be sent with a brief resume (biographical notice and main publications or achievements) of no more than 300 words and an abstract of no more than 600 words presenting the topic or main argument, its relation to the specific session and its interest in the field of critical heritage studies. Paper abstracts should also demonstrate scientific quality through references to a theoretical framework, a methodology or by outlining the contribution to knowledge. It is expected that poster submissions also outline their contribution and state how the poster format will allow a better understanding of the subject treated.

By email to: Susannah Eckersley ( and Ullrich Kockel ( by 19th October 2015

And through the open call via by 1st November 2015, with the session code: OS067 Changing places, changing people? Critical heritage(s) of diaspora, migration and belonging

More information is available on the conference website at:

Newcastle University announces the creation of Media, Culture, Heritage (MCH)

Newcastle University has merged two of its high performing Research Excellence Framework (REF) units – Media and Cultural Studies (MaCS) and the International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies (ICCHS) – to form Media, Culture, Heritage (MCH).

According to Professor Chris Whitehead, head of the new unit, ‘MCH was created following our combined Research Excellence Framework (REF) achievements and recognition of our related research and teaching interests. MCH brings together academic staff and practitioners associated with highly successful research and teaching programmes in Cultural Studies, Media Studies, Journalism, Public Relations, Digital Cultural Communication and Participation, and Museum, Gallery and Heritage Studies, alongside new provision in the area of Film Practice.’

The MCH REF submission highlighted that over 80% of their staff are ‘World Leading’ and ‘Internationally Excellent’ researchers.  Moreover, the dynamic and innovative commitment of connecting leading academic work with relevant contemporary practice also stood out, as MCH research was recognised as having impact within the the media, culture and heritage sectors of global and international significance.

Dr Darren Kelsey, deputy head of MCH, commented that ‘The merger represents MCH’s strong focus on public culture, supported by Newcastle University’s commitment to cultural and civic engagement. This development reflects the desire to undertake socially-relevant research and to provide education and training that maximises graduates’ critical and professional skills. It will also enhance their experiences and understandings of cultural sector contexts in the UK and internationally.’

MCH staff have considerable sector experience and strong links with the media, culture and heritage sectors in the region, nationally and internationally and will continue to work closely with practitioners to develop and deliver the right mix of theory and practice on its courses.

Three public art collections

Today’s post is by Rebecca Farley, ICCHS PhD researcher.

Three public art collections

Over the summer months I’ve been out and about beyond my usual Newcastle-Gateshead research base, visiting a selection of UK towns and cities that positively describe themselves as holding public art collections – in the ‘art in the public realm’ sense rather than museum or gallery based artworks.

In the UK the word ‘collection’ is not one that has been commonly connected with public art practice. (Indeed there is quite strong resistance towards this term from some UK public art professionals I have spoken to.) The term is more accepted in the USA however, where cities both large and small, often describe and promote their public artworks as city or civic collections. In recent years a small number of UK towns and cities are also beginning to use the ‘public art collection’ label. Three of these places, Milton Keynes, Folkestone and Cardiff, were selected as sites for my own PhD research visits. The purpose of these was twofold: to explore these public art collections as they might be experienced on the ground; and to meet with some of the curators and local authority officers who have responsibility for their commissioning, presentation and ongoing management or care.

As you might imagine, these visits to three completely different places – a 1960s ‘new town’, a culturally regenerating south coast harbor town, and the capital city of Wales’ ­– uncovered a diverse picture of public art collection history, practice and approach.

In Milton Keynes the collection encompasses some 220 individual artworks including outdoor sculpture and interior artworks commissioned for some of its key public and cultural buildings. Situated both in Central MK and the wider borough these artworks date from the various different phases of the physical development of Milton Keynes, from the mid 1960s to the present day. Despite their very mixed pattern of private and public ownership and current custodianship, all are considered as part of the ‘MK collection’.

In Folkestone the public art collection (‘Folkestone Artworks’) is much smaller and younger. Linked to the commissioning for the Folkestone Triennial twenty-seven artworks have been permanently sited and ‘collected’ for the town since 2008. Rather than coming under a local authority remit (as in Milton Keynes and Cardiff) here the public art collection is developed and managed by an independent local charity, The Creative Foundation.

Cardiff’s public art collection is by far the oldest of the three I visited. Managed by the council’s planning department and based on its recently compiled Public Art Register this collection maps the development of public art in the city – its statues, monuments, memorials and art in architecture commissioning – over a 150-year timespan. This includes over 200 artworks sited in Cardiff city centre, the historic Civic quarter and around Cardiff Bay.

For individual reports on my encounters with these three public art collections visit my PhD research blog at:

Andre Wallace (1984) The Whisper, Milton Keynes Collection.

Andre Wallace (1984) The Whisper, Milton Keynes Collection.

Gordon Young (2013) MK Rose, Milton Keynes Collection.

Gordon Young (2013) MK Rose, Milton Keynes Collection.

Sarah Staton (2014) Steve, Folkestone Artworks.

Sarah Staton (2014) Steve, Folkestone Artworks.

Nathan Coley (2008) Heaven Is A Place Where Nothing Ever Happens, Folkestone Artworks.

Nathan Coley (2008) Heaven Is A Place Where Nothing Ever Happens, Folkestone Artworks.

Albert Hodge (1912) Mining, Cardiff Public Art Collection

Albert Hodge (1912) Mining, Cardiff Public Art Collection

Jean-Bernard Metals (2009) Alliance, Cardiff Public Art Collection.

Jean-Bernard Metals (2009) Alliance, Cardiff Public Art Collection.

New book by Dr Bryony Onciul (ICCHS alumna MA (2006) and PhD (2012) – Museums, Heritage and Indigenous Voice: Decolonizing Engagement


Current discourse on Indigenous engagement in museum studies is often dominated by curatorial and academic perspectives, in which community voice, viewpoints, and reflections on their collaborations can be under-represented. This book provides a unique look at Indigenous perspectives on museum community engagement and the process of self-representation, specifically how the First Nations Elders of the Blackfoot Confederacy have worked with museums and heritage sites in Alberta, Canada, to represent their own culture and history. Situated in a post-colonial context, the case-study sites are places of contention, a politicized environment that highlights commonly hidden issues and naturalized inequalities built into current approaches to community engagement. Data from participant observation, archives, and in-depth interviewing with participants brings Blackfoot community voice into the text and provides an alternative understanding of self and cross-cultural representation.

Focusing on the experiences of museum professionals and Blackfoot Elders who have worked with a number of museums and heritage sites, Museums, Heritage and Indigenous Voice: Decolonizing Engagement unpicks the power and politics of engagement on a micro level and how it can be applied more broadly, by exposing the limits and challenges of cross-cultural engagement and community self-representation. The result is a volume that provides readers with an in-depth understanding of the nuances of self-representation and decolonization.


“This is an important and very useful book for museum professionals and academics who are concerned with issues of community outreach and consultation. It will also appeal to communities and their representatives who are about to engage with museums in policy and exhibitions development.” – Laurajane Smith, Australian National University

“At last, a book that goes beyond hopeful assertions about the value of community engagement, and really delves into the nitty-gritty of collaboration and representation, revealing the advantages – but also the challenges and risks – of working alongside, with, and for indigenous people.” – Conal McCarthy, Victoria University, New Zealand

New Book by Laurie Rush and Luisa Benedettini Millington

The Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Property

Saving the World’s Heritage

Laurie Rush
Luisa Benedettini Millington

Renowned for their rigorous investigative approach, the dedicated officers of the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Property (Carabinieri TPC) have recovered thousands of objects and built legal cases resulting in high profile repatriations of cultural property. Their actions have effectively changed an art market that previously depended upon theft and criminal behaviour. Italy is a nation that greatly values its ancient past alongside its artistic present, and it is this appreciation that has led to the creation of the world’s premier police force dedicated to law enforcement in the arts, heritage and archaeology. As the TPC’s dedicated officers work to protect every aspect of Italy’s rich cultural heritage, their organisation, training, approach, missions and successes offer valuable lessons for all who share the goal of protecting and recovering cultural property.

Laurie Rush is a Board Member of the US Committee of the Blue Shield, and employed as an archaeologist by the US army; Luisa Benedettini Millington is a Faculty member of the Community College of Vermont, US

For more information, please visit the publisher’s website: 

ICHG Conference, London, 5th – 10th July

Today’s post is by Carolyn Gibbeson, ICCHS PhD researcher

ICHG Conference 2015

I was invited to participate in the the Asylum Geographies session at the International Conference for Historical Geographers held in London last week at the Royal Geographical Society. The two sessions, which spread across the whole of Thursday morning, were organised by Chris Philo and Cheryl McGeachen (both Glasgow University) and sought to highlight and explore the small group of researchers who investigate asylum spaces and geographies, to look at the wider societal roles and to explore the rise in the geographies of asylums.

The first session contained four papers from Lauren Farquharson (University of Glasgow) looking at The Scottish Poor Law of Lunacy, Caroline Bressey (UCL) examining geographies of the cosmopolitan asylum, Cheryl McGeachen (Glasgow) looking at psychiatric art therapy and finally Sarah Phelan (Glasgow) who spoke about Thomas Ferguson Rodger, the first Professor of Psychological Medicine at the University of Glasgow.  All four were fascinating papers looking at the past and present lives of people within the asylums and the asylums themselves. Caroline’s paper on the story of Caroline Brogdan who, when detained at the City of London asylum was living as a man was particularly fascinating and reveals the amazing stories that asylum archives contain, waiting to be explored and discovered.

Carolyn Gibbeson

My paper Memories, monuments and mansions: the multiple lives of former historic asylums started the second session. This drew on my current PhD research looking at the reuse of former asylum sites and concentrated particularly on place attachment/ place stigma to explore how different groups of people connected to these sites feel about them and portray them through their engagement with the reuse process. It argued that the current literature on place attachment (and place stigma) focuses less on negative places and different types of attachment and that these are areas that my research highlights. The sessions that followed mine were Nicole Baur (Exeter University) looking at the interplay between planned and non-planned space within the Devon County Asylum, a paper entitled Madhouse: or an investigation into “the regions below” by Chris Philo (presented by Cheryl McGeachen as Chris was in Canada) and Ebba Hogstrom who highlighted how the past, present and future exists in the new House of Psychiatry in Uppsala, Sweden.

All the papers presented provided a detailed and fascinating look into many different aspects of one particular building type and the research being done in this area. The links between past, present and future were really clear to see, as well as the continued discussions about how we present this work, given its often conflicting, challenging and difficult nature. I came away with renewed vigour and interest in my own work, as well as an interest in all the work presented in the sessions and some ideas for possible future research and publications should the PhD research time allow! It was a pleasure to be a part of the sessions at the conference and to be engaged in the continued discussions about these often forgotten places.

Exhibition/Non-exhibition: Stretched Out

Today’s post is by Dr. Emma Coffield, ICCHS researcher


A few months ago, I was invited to take part in Exhibition/Non-exhibition: Stretched Out, a seminar organised by Jason E. Bowman, Julie Crawshaw and Mick Wilson (Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg), which aimed to draw together researchers and practitioners engaged in investigations of the artist-led, instituting, the curatorial, the exhibitionary and the ‘stretching’ of artistic practice beyond ‘art-making’.

Held at the first pavilion in the history of the Venice Biennale to be dedicated to artistic research, the seminar began with an introduction to the Stretched project (a three-year long inquiry into expanded artistic practice and artist-led cultures at Valand Academy) from Jason E. Bowman. Four papers followed: in the morning session I drew upon my PhD research to argue against any kind of artist-run ‘culture in common’ and for a more critical approach to collective action, while Megs Morley explored instituting as a form of resistance with reference to her extensive research-led practice. In the afternoon, the Italian curator Valario Del Baglivo questioned the need for permanent space and suggested alternative strategies of solidarity, and Dr. Georgina Jackson spoke of the potential of the political, and political agency, in exhibition-making.

Despite the varied nature of the presentations, during the discussions that followed (or during the ‘interrogative questioning’, as it was billed!) a number of key concerns came up, as expertly summarised by Prof. Andrea Phillips (Goldsmiths): how might we work together to maintain artist-run initiatives – and should we? How might the artist-led correlate with the idea of public space, and what do we lose by labelling it ‘artist-led’? How do institutional, economic, educational and structural formations limit the horizons of the possible – and why does knowledge ‘bleed out’ of the artist-led with every ‘new’ generation?

As for my own work, I’ve been thinking about how to move beyond the case study approach to engage more adequately with structural, cultural, social and political ideals of the artist, art and art-making for a while now – and I’m still not completely sure how to go about this – but I now have some intriguing possibilities to follow up, and a lot of reading to do. My thanks are due to all those who shared, very generously, their thoughts with me, and to Valand Academy in particular for the invitation.