Institute of Archaeology



What counts as knowledge in the museum and heritage sector, and how can this influence the quality of decision-making using diverse sources of knowledge and evidence? | Tue Dec 17 14:00:00 | Room 828

This session will examine different types of knowledge, how they are produced, exchanged, used, interact with each other, but also how they are used to inform policy and decision-making in the heritage and museum sector. The papers will examine everyday or vernacular knowledge as well as epistemic knowledge; how different types of knowledge are represented and given a voice in heritage and museum organisations; and the mechanisms through which we do that (e.g. Responsible Research and Innovation, co-creation and other participatory approaches to developing knowledge).

Session timetable
14:00 | Session organisers


14:10 | Theano Moussouri, UCL; Hana Morel, UCL

What counts as knowledge: influencing decision-making through knowledge and research

14:30 | Alison Edwards, University of York

Communicating Complexity: How can we put the Theories of Heritage into Practice?

Examining critical heritage theory, this paper will question how and where its constructivist assertions regarding the subjective and political nature of heritage have made an impact. I will draw on a longitudinal analysis of the development of ideas within the UK heritage sector in the twenty-first century, which uses qualitative thematic data from five heritage journals in comparison with key national and international policy documents to highlight when and why certain themes in heritage have become widely discussed. This data will be used alongside a survey of current heritage sector workers to examine if and how complex theoretical discussions can put into practice, in particular the power imbalances created by the barriers which prevent wide access to academic discussions. Finally, I will ask whether the current communication routes within the heritage sector enable or prevent the sharing of ideas among those who work in or heritage, archaeology, policy, and other areas.

14:50 | Ellen Pavey, UCL

Making the Invisible Visible: Communicating Hidden Practices in the Contemporary Art Museum

Focusing on the context of the contemporary art museum, and using Tate as a case study, this paper will examine current initiatives to communicate the ‘behind the scenes’ work of Collection Care and Conservation. Conservation practices and decision-making processes related to the acquisition, treatment and display of works of contemporary art are conducted between networks of parties both within and exterior to the institution – and for the majority of museum audiences these processes are opaque. This paper emerges from research in-progress and will identify what knowledge pertaining to museum practices is currently communicated to audiences – and what form this takes – as well as what currently remains hidden. Drawing on elements of systems thinking, I will ask how we might facilitate greater transparency on the part of the museum, and what benefits might arise through developing a culture of mutual knowledge exchange between the museum and its audiences.

15:10 | Francesca Dolcetti, University of York; Dr. Rachel Opitz, University of Glasgow; Dr. Sara Perry, University of York

UX and Participatory Design in Archaeology and Heritage

Design is deeply embedded in archaeological practices and in the way archaeologists and heritage professionals produce and share knowledge. However, while digital resources for specialists and non-specialists alike are ubiquitous within the archaeological and heritage sectors, design theory and participatory design practices are seldom applied. By not engaging with core design epistemologies and audiences we are missing meaningful opportunities in terms of alignment of project goals with user outcomes and impactful forms of knowledge exchange.

This paper presents the outcomes of two workshops, held at the Universities of Glasgow and York, and a roundtable session held at the last Computing Applications in Archaeology conference, aimed at bringing together a multidisciplinary group of researchers and practitioners working in the field of archaeological knowledge production and use. These events sought to explore key themes around UX design: the role of archaeologists and heritage practitioners in the creation of knowledge through participatory approaches;how to integrate critical thinking and value-led design, meaning design guided by specific ethical goals or by a concern to foster and support certain civic values, into archaeological practice;whether certain (or any) spaces in our workflows afford more experimentation with design.

Here we seek to discuss lessons learned from the events, with the ultimate intent of offering theoretical and practical grounding for the discipline on: flexible co-design methodologies for archaeology and heritage practitioners, including tailorable toolkits for actualising co-design work; promoting value-led design and co-design as conceptual models for publishers and authors working together to develop new design-led formats.

15:30 | BREAK
16:00 | Zenobie Garrett, University of Oklahoma

Remixing the Recipe: the role of libraries in the production of heritage

According to Indiana Jones (original recipe) “Seventy percent of archaeology is done in the library.”Although libraries have always been involved in the knowledge production process, acting as places where knowledge is both stored and created, and increasingly as collaborators in the research process, their role is particularly important in the realm of heritage studies as they often serve as the curators of the information associated with objects, which provides invaluable contextual information.Their role is even more important with the increasing ubiquity of 3D data in the heritage sector and the need for standardized guidelines on how to curate it.Research libraries, as higher education institutions, are guided by the same demands of relevance and innovation as schools and departments, but have their own goals and missions in the realm of research which has important implications for how knowledge is defined, perceived, and understood.This paper will look at the role libraries can and do play in the knowledge production process, focusing on 3D data, and the contributions made to the heritage sector.

16:20 | Nathaniel Welsby, University of Lancashire; Scott Bound, University of Chester

Did we Fall Down? A Discussion of Archaeology’s Standing with the Public

This paper will discuss the success and failures in recent years on archaeology and it effect in public memory, discussing how things might not be what they seem and how we still have a long way to go to change things. Archaeology as a profession has had a long standing of interacting and educating the general public on the past. Britain is well versed on this premise with new initiatives appearing regularly in the heritage sector, with relationships between national bodies and the public being established, seeing an increase of public outreach over the last few years. Though increasingly problems appear to effect this relationship in the UK, be it media interpreration, heritage being utilised in populist discourse, and the exclusivity of both archaeology and heritage, so we must ask ourselves, what can we do to improve our practices? Do we see a difference in representation around the UK?

In this paper we will use current evidence such as the Cadbury heritage failure this year, the rise of heritage in populist rhetoric, and the exclusivity of archaeology and heritage whilst giving close study to the works of Laurajane Smith, Emma Waterton and Gary Campbell to determine if we are really setting the right precedent of public archaeology interaction.

16:40 | Theano Moussouri, UCL; Hana Morel, UCL


17:30 | END