UCL Anthropocene


Dean Sully

Academic position: Associate Professor of Heritage Conservation

Department: Institute of Archaeology

Telephone number: +44 (0) 20 7679 7497 

Email: d.sully@ucl.ac.uk


My work seeks to re-situate heritage practice from maintaining the metastable authenticity of heritage places, towards co-curating ecosociologically constituted multispecies worlds. This is addressed via transarticulating sympoietic framing that brings creative practice and heritage processes into flux through experimental science-art worldings. It utilises temporality, time travel, projected pasts and retrospective futures, to challenge the chronological linearity of time. The mechanism of retroactive causality, in creating a past or future so real that it casts its shadow over the present and creates the conditions in retrospect in which this past becomes the preferred future reality. Speculative design, broken worlds, truth & insouciance, as methods for future making/world building, are used to move beyond the plausible future and shape preferable futures. This provides a speculative exploration of heritage care for living as-well-as-possible in more-than-human worlds. 

Research Projects:

Objects of the Misanthropocene, a Time Travelling Exhibition of Insouciant Objects from the Museum of Beyond. 

Temporary Exhibition as part of UCL Slade Scientist in Residence 2019-2020.  

This temporary exhibition presents a certain future perspective on our uncertain present. Archaeological and geological artefacts of the Misanthropocene have been fabricated to reflect things that inhabit a range of future worlds (from fiction and non-fictional accounts of the Anthropocene). These credible future worlds provide a location from which to situate a critical assessment of our present choices. The fabricated exhibits are presented as a selection of time traveling objects loaned from the Museum of Beyond, a future museum at the edges of the Anthropocene.  The exhibits are interpreted in the exhibition text panels and labels from a pluriversity of curatorial perspectives that reveal the transtemporal misunderstandings that occur with the translation between worlds. This raises concerns about the instability of the speculative pasts authorised by heritage practice, alongside the reality of our speculations about the future.


The MA in Built Heritage Futures (proposed start 2023) forms part of Culture Lab’s suite of cross-Faculty, transdisciplinary, specialist, postgraduate degree programmes UCL-E Culture Lab.