Institute of Archaeology


Heritage Conservation as Historical Method

21 July 2021

Dean Sully has been invited to present a Masterclass Programme at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) in Berlin.

A painting-by-numbers canvas, a communal artwork painted by Hinemihi’s People at the noho marae in August 2010 (Image: WHAT_architecture)

The masterclass programme, Heritage Conservation as Historical Method, presents a transdisciplinary approach to decolonizing, transcultural, critical heritage, and post-humanist practice as a research lens for writing histories of science and will take place from 7-9 September 2021. 

Dean Sully in 2007 decolonising Hinemihi (Image: Man-yee Liu)

Dean Sully will give a public lecture entitled Critical Heritage Conservation: Preferred Futures, Uncertain Presents and Speculative Pasts (7 September) which will then be followed by two intensive method workshops.

The public lecture will provide a practice-based account of heritage conservation as a set of research methods that contribute to broader debates about the past, and concerns about our futures. It will explore the principles of the conservation discipline within a framing of colonialism, and the need for additional methodological tools that go beyond the technical ability of heritage to merely present something of the past to be experienced in the present.


Dean's current research seeks to re-situate heritage practice, from maintaining the metastable authenticity of heritage places and objects towards co-curating ecosociologically-constituted multispecies worlds. This invitation comes out of Dean’s long-term collaborative projects to Decolonise Conservation (Sully 2007), and more recent creative heritage projects that respond to the challenges posed by the environmental humanities of the Anthropocene (Sully et al. 2020). Registration is now open for these events (via the links above).


Sully, Dean (ed.). 2007. Decolonising Conservation: Caring for Māori Meeting Houses Outside New Zealand. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.

Sully, Dean, Cecilie Gravesen, Katherine Beckwith, and Xiaozhou Li. 2020. Objects of the Misanthropocene A Time-Travelling Exhibition from the Museums of Beyond. https://misanthropocene.wixsite.com/museumofbeyond.