New Seminar for February

Please join us on 18th February for the next in our series of research seminars.

Sustaining intangible cultural heritage through the vehicle of tourism: choices and challenges
Professor Alison McCleery, Edinburgh Napier University Business School

Wednesday, 18th February 1 – 2pm
Room 1.06, 18 Windsor Terrace
All Welcome- feel free to bring a sandwich

This presentation will explore aspects of the input of tourism to regional development policies. Specifically, the possibility is explored that there can be a realistic role for sustainable tourism premissed upon the conversion of intangible cultural heritage (ICH or ‘living culture’) from an inward-facing phenomenon practiced by indigenous communities to an outward-facing phenomenon offered to visiting tourists. The challenge is to introduce that living culture to external paying audiences in a sensitive way such that it does not place very special, extremely delicate and sometimes sacred non-material heritage at risk of damage, dilution or destruction. Key ICH issues will be examined in the geographical context of contrasting case study sites across Scotland and in the conceptual contexts of identity, authenticity and inclusion. The objective of doing so is to assist in identifying common aspects of endeavouring to sustain living culture through tourism with a view to enabling a model of best practice, applicable across cultures, to be developed and tested with a view to wider dissemination and application – and to delivering impact.

Professor Alison McCleery: Short Biography

Alison McCleery is Professor of Economic and Cultural Geography at Edinburgh Napier University. She holds a 1st Class Honours Degree in Geography from St Andrews and a PhD from Glasgow on the topic of regional development policy. She has since published widely on North Atlantic peripheral rural areas, including on France where she both lived and worked briefly. More recently Alison’s work has evolved to embrace Intangible Cultural Heritage, the formal term used by UNESCO to denote what is often referred to as ‘living culture’. In 2013 she was both an invited speaker at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC and a keynote presenter at celebrations in Venice to mark the 10th Anniversary of the 2003 UNESCO Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Committed to the capacity building of early career researchers, Alison sits on the boards of both the ESRC Doctoral Training Centre and the AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Scotland.


Newcastle Heritage Debate

Rhiannon Mason and Peter Stone

Rhiannon Mason and Peter Stone

On Wednesday 5 November 2014, ICCHS’s Peter Stone and Rhiannon Mason played a prominent part in the Heritage Alliance’s ‘Newcastle Heritage Debate 2014’, held at Newcastle University’s King’s Hall. The debate explored the highly topical issue of heritage and identity. ICCHS’s Kat Lloyd and several others live tweeted the event. Below is a snapshot of some of the tweets from the debate – click on the image to be taken to the full Storify story to see more.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 21.27.53

The end of Britishness? ICCHS research into identity, heritage and museums in the context of the Scottish Referendum.

Photo of couple dancing at a ceilidh..

Couple dancing at a ceilidh. Photo: Abdelhamid Alhassi (2011).

After months of intense debate and speculation, Scottish voters have woken today to the news that Scotland will remain in the United Kingdom. Announcements from politicians in both Holyrood and Westminster this morning show that, despite the majority No vote, the results have major implications for people living on both sides of the Border, particularly as questions of Englishness and political representation become more prominent.

Discussions of heritage and a shared sense of identity (whether Scottish or British) have been present within both the Yes Scotland and Better Together campaigns and it will be fascinating to watch whether discussions of cultural distinctiveness or similarity continue in the next few years. A number of research projects undertaken by staff at ICCHS have examined the relationship between heritage and identity in the UK and European context that further our understanding of these issues.

Katherine Lloyd’s PhD research analyses the way in which young people in Scotland negotiate issues of place and heritage in the formation of national identity. Her work unpicks common assumptions about the relationship between British and Scottish identities for the younger generation, by examining the multiple and shifting forms of place identification amongst this group. It also explores the role of ethnicity in shaping understandings of identity and considers the responses of young people to the visual ‘tartan and turban’ imagery frequently associated with so-called ‘New Scots’. In doing so, it interrogates the clear cut distinctions made between so-called ‘civic’ and ‘ethnic’ forms of Scottishness frequently seen in political debates. See Kat’s recent article ‘Beyond the rhetoric of an “inclusive national identity”: Understanding the potential impact of Scottish museums on public attitudes to issues of identity, citizenship and belonging in an age of migrations’ in the special Scottish Issue Cultural Trends: 23 (3).

Rhiannon Mason’s book Museums, Nations, Identities examines the role of museums in the formation of national identity in Wales. Other articles examine broader questions of the representation of various aspects of Britishness, Englishness and Scottishness. More recently, she has also looked at questions of postnationalism, cosmopolitanism, and globalisation and the implications of these pressures for the future of national museums.

Whatever your thoughts on the results of the referendum, this is an exciting time for research on heritage and national identity in the UK and wider European context – watch this space for further updates and analysis!

New publication on museums and identity

As part of the EC-funded project European Museums in an Age of Migrations (MeLa), Chris Whitehead and the ICCHS MeLa team (Rhiannon Mason, Susannah Eckersley and Kat Lloyd) have recently produced a policy brief for the European Commission. This brief, ‘Museums & Identity in History and Contemporaneity’, explores the roles that museums can play in representing migration, migrants and diversity in order to develop egalitarian social relations. The brief is intended to guide cultural policy and museum practice in the EU.

Download the publication: Museums & Identity in History and Contemporaneity


‘Making Sense of Place’ sells out! Paperback next?

Making Sense of PlaceThe International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies is the focus for the book series ‘Heritage Matters’, published by Boydell and Brewer. It is a series of edited and single-authored volumes which addresses the whole range of issues that confront the cultural heritage sector as we face the global challenges of the twenty-first century. Full details of the series can be found hereMaking Sense of Place: multidisciplinary perspectives was published in April 2012 in hardback as Number 7 in the Heritage Matters Series and has now sold out, both in Europe and the USA. The book was edited by Ian Convery (Cumbria University) and two members of staff at ICCHS, Gerard Corsane and Peter Davis.

Making Sense of Place explores the term “sense of place”, a term used to understand the complex processes through which individuals and groups define themselves and their relationship to their natural and cultural environments. The term has, over the last twenty years or so, been increasingly defined, theorized and used across diverse disciplines in different ways. Sense of place mediates our relationship with the world and with each other; it provides a profoundly important foundation for individual and community identity. It can be an intimate, deeply personal experience yet also something which we share with others. It is at once recognizable but never constant; rather it is embodied in the flux between familiarity and difference. Research in this area requires culturally and geographically nuanced analyses, approaches that are sensitive to difference and specificity, event and locale. The essays in the book are drawn from a variety of disciplines (including but not limited to sociology, history, geography, outdoor education, museum and heritage studies, health, and English literature), and offer an international perspective on the relationship between people and place, via five interlinked sections (Histories, Landscapes and Identities; Rural Sense of Place; Urban Sense of Place; Cultural Landscapes; Conservation, Biodiversity and Tourism).

For full details of the series, please visit

Museums, National Identity and Cultural Policy in Scotland

Doctoral Researcher Katherine Lloyd was invited to discuss her research on the role that heritage plays in young people’s narratives of belonging and exclusion in Scotland at the conference ‘Imagining Scotland through Cultural Policy’ at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

‘One Nation, Five Million Voices’ display in Scotland: A Changing Nation, National Museum of Scotland. Image taken by Katherine Lloyd

The conference was a timely reflection on the development of cultural policy in Scotland since Devolution and posed important questions regarding the impact of the forthcoming Independence Referendum in September 2014. Papers from academics, policy makers and practitioners considered the impact of cultural policy on the Creative Industries and Scotland’s cultural organisations, with perspectives from broadcasting, theatre, museums, community festivals and issues of cultural participation. Case studies from Wales also provided useful comparative insights into the relationship between cultural policy and questions of national identity in the wider UK context.

Reflecting on the aims of the new National Strategy for Scotland’s Museums and Galleries, Katherine’s paper challenged the frequent assumptions made in cultural policy regarding the impact museums may have in fostering an ‘inclusive’ sense of national identity. In doing so, she stressed the need to differentiate between cultural policy as advocacy verses policy based on empirical evidence and called for further research on visitor responses to ‘inclusive’ representations of identity.

Further information about the conference including selected papers can be found here:

More information about Katherine’s research is available at: