Centre for Critical Heritage Studies


Svalbard global seed vault (Photo credit: Rodney Harrison)


Small grants

The UCL Centre for Critical Heritage Studies invites applications from UCL Academic, Research and Teaching staff, postdoctoral staff, Honorary Associates and PhD students to its Small Grants Scheme, which funds projects that lead to or support collaborative research on critical heritage studies. Funding of up to £2000 per application is available per project. In very exceptional circumstances we may consider applications up to £4000. There is no minimum limit for awards.

We particularly invite proposals that:

  • involve collaboration between staff based in different UCL departments, and/or utilise cross-disciplinary approaches;
  • aim to achieve research impact (through scholarly output, public engagement, influence on policy and practice, knowledge transfer or similar);
  • aim to prepare the ground for new, extended research projects (including grant applications).

Typical projects eligible for funding include:

  • hosting a research conference, a seminar, workshop, or symposium;
  • public engagement activities and collaborations with external non-academic institutions;
  • costs associated with a specific project, e.g. research assistant time (UCL HEFCE staff costs/salaries are not eligible);
  • costs associated with a pilot study or the preparation of an application for the funding of a major research project, e.g. travel to meet with potential partners at other institutions.
General regulations
  • The deadline for submission of proposals is 12 September 2019.
  • Projects will be selected by the CCHS Leadership Group. We aim to inform applicants of the result by 1 October 2019.
  • The project needs to commence and its allocated funds strictly be spent by 30 September 2020.
Claiming funds

CCHS Small Grants funds are paid to the individual's host department upon project completion. As you incur costs and make claims to your department, please keep copies of all receipts as these will be required as part of your final expenditure report to the CCHS.

If your application is successful, you will receive a confirmation email at the start of the project detailing the amount of your award. At the end of the project, the items which you claim for should generally align with those detailed in your original application. If actual costs are lower than estimated costs, the funds awarded will be reduced accordingly.

  • Throughout the project, claims should be made via your home department(s) in accordance with department procedure and in line with UCL's Expenses Policy https://www.ucl.ac.uk/finance/policies-procedures/expenses-policy
  • At the close of the project you will need to submit :
    • a final report to the CCHS addressed to Research Centre Administrator Cecile Bremont criticalheritage@ucl.ac.uk for review by the Leadership Group. This must give details of achievements against objectives; future dissemination plans; any income from other sources; and a detailed record of final expenditure.
    • produce a research poster (Powerpoint and PDF) for CCHS promotional activities
    • agree to give a seminar within 6 months of project close.
Successfull Case Studies

Displaying the digital heritage of the Mau Mau uprising

Gabriel Moshenska – UCL & Olivia Windham Stewart – Museum of British Colonialism

Building on the results of our fieldwork, archival research and digital heritage work on the Mau Mau uprising in 1950s Kenya, the Museum of British Colonialism and partners held an exhibition and a two-day conference at the Africa Centre, London in January 2020. 

The exhibition Emergency: Sites and Stories of the Mau Mau Conflict displayed the outcome of fieldwork, research and digital heritage work by the Museum of British Colonialism, including fieldwork funded by a previous round of CCHS Small Grants. The exhibition was split into three sections: Emergency Sites, presenting our initial fieldwork on two former detention camps; Emergency Stories, presenting three oral histories of elderly Mau Mau veterans who fought for independence from the British; and a selection of 3D Digital Reconstructions of former detention camps developed in partnership with African Digital Heritage, using the results of our initial fieldwork and archival research. 

Alongside the exhibition we ran a two-day conference over the weekend of 11-12 January 2020 entitled Changing the Narrative, in partnership with diaspora newspaper Informer East Africa. Through a series of discussion forums and interactive exhibits, Changing the Narrative confronted what it means to decolonise heritage in a contemporary context. To explore these issues we convened a series of panels exploring topics central to our work, and to wider issues in Africa-UK heritage. These topics included Repatriation; Reparations; Decolonisation; Archives, Libraries and Collections; and Africa-UK Collaborations. Speakers included writer and activist Maya Goodfellow, historian and TV presenter David Olesuga, and human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC, who discussed his new book Who Owns History? Elgin's Loot and the Case for Returning Plundered Treasure. 

The Changing the Narrative panels were standing room only, with more than two hundred visitors over the two days, and the plenary nature of the event as well as the panel discussion format provided opportunities for the audience to pose questions and engage in the discussion, which was consistently lively, stimulating and positive. We were particularly pleased with the number of students and young people who attended and took part in the discussions, alongside a fantastically eclectic mix of artists and activists, academics and archivists, lawyers and politicians - the whole event was buzzing with energy, ideas and insights.

Much of the content of the exhibition is available online through our website here, and the pamphlet that accompanied the exhibition and the conference can be read here. We are extremely grateful to UCL CCHS for the funding that made these events possible, and for their continued support of our work. 


Photo ‘Changing the Narrative panel and audience © Beth Rebisz, Museum of British Colonialism, 2020. 


Women Going To Wembley, 1950-1975

Victoria Dawson, Honorary Research Associate, UCL History, in collaboration with the Rugby Football League and Rugby League Cares

Halifax fans in Trafalgar Square, Challenge Cup Final 1949

The project is a collaboration with the Rugby Football League (RFL) via its charitable arm, Rugby League Cares. It will record and study the experiences of ten northern working-class women born between 1935 and 1960, who travelled to Wembley Stadium to watch the annual Rugby League Challenge Cup Final prior to 1975, using the methods of oral history interviewing and archival research.  

Rugby league, the hypermasculine game of the northern English industrial working class, was born out of a class conflict in 1895. It has shaped, and been shaped by, northern cultural identity and is a significant part of the region’s social and cultural history. The Challenge Cup Final (CCF) was traditionally the only match played outside the north, so for many a trip to “that there London” was a unique and exciting opportunity, one often saved up for all year. Many women went to London for the very first time for the CCF, with the journey being the furthest they had travelled on public transport, either on specially chartered rail services or later by coach. The project will investigate women’s experiences of travelling to the CCF, using oral history interviews and archival research, to discover the gendered nature of their experiences. 

Women’s historic experiences of mass spectator sport are largely absent from the public record; this project’s outcomes will contribute to redressing the gender imbalance in our understanding of the sport and its cultural significance to women’s everyday lives. The project will establish how northern working-class women experienced travelling to the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final from urban centres in the north and promote the research findings via three public engagement activities. The project’s legacy will be a cache of publicly accessible material in the RFL archive for use in the National Rugby League Museum and by future researchers.

  • Award £1159
  • Photo Halifax fans in Trafalgar Square, Challenge Cup Final 1949 © Rugby Football League Archive

UK-Nordic Mobility: Tracing Flows and Building Networks

Elettra Carbone, Lecturer in Norwegian Studies, UCL Department of Scandinavian Studies & Riitta-Liisa Valijärvi, Senior Lecturer in Finnish , UCL SEESS (and Uppsala University)

Photographer James Ford Bell Library University of Minnesota
 Bringing together researchers from several disciplines (such as Anthropology, Area Studies, Linguistics, Sociology and Visual Culture), UK-Nordic Mobility will explore how mobility has affected the identities of the UK and the Nordic region from the nineteenth century onwards.  The project is based on an international and interdisciplinary collaboration between humanists (Scandinavian Studies at UCL and Edinburgh), and social scientists (UCL SEESS, UCL Critical Heritage Studies, the School of Global Studies at the University of Gothenburg, the University of Eastern Finland). 
Rooted in the belief (supported by recent trends in Migration Studies) that all types of migration should be examined, including those between what today might be regarded as ‘privileged’ regions, the project aims to focus on the migrant communities (particularly as represented by local multicultural heritage groups and institutions), the movement of objects, texts, ideas and images and the multilingual environment triggered by these flows. By studying these movements both from a historical and contemporary perspective, we will contribute to the understanding of migration, integration and heritage, ultimately favou¬ring the creation of plural societies at a time when mobility is challenged by the consequences of the UK referendum on EU membership. 
Through a symposium (which will take place at UCL on 21-22 May 2020) we wish to encourage collaboration between four main groups: the academy, heritage communities, businesses and non-academic audiences (both the migrant communities at the centre of the project and the wider societies of which they are part). In connection with the symposium, we will organise a pop-up exhibition in the UCL Art Museum featuring materials that are part of the cultural heritage of UK-Nordic migration. Ultimately the aim of the planned activities is that of setting up the UK-Nordic Mobility Network, a consortium of universities and organisations in the UK and Nordic countries mapping the movements of people, ideas and texts between the UK and the Nordic countries and reflecting on the construction and preservation of individual, national and multinational identities in these regions.  
  • Award £2000
  • Photo The 1539 Carta Marina by Olaus Magnus  © James Ford Bell Library, University of Minnesota

Archive it Ourselves: A Day Symposium Exploring Intersections of DIY Cultures and Archiving/Heritage 

Kirsty Fife, PdD student, UCL Information Studies

man playing guitar
This event is a day long symposium exploring the intersections of DIY cultural production (DIY music venues and autonomous spaces; zine making and self-publishing; blogging; podcasting) and archives/information/heritage practices. Recent collaboration between heritage organisations and zine makers and DIY cultures includes the acquisition of significant countercultural collections by libraries and museums (for examples, the Riot Grrrl Collection by Fales Library) collaborations between zine fair organisers and heritage organisations (North West Zine Fest and the People’s History Museum; Weirdo Zine Fest and the National Trust and Science Gallery London), and the establishment of community-led initiatives including the Manchester Digital Music Archive, Salford Zine Library, Queer Zine Archive Project and Birmingham Music Archive. The mobilisation of these networks and communities to capture and collect the heritage of DIY cultures highlights an ongoing need for what Jenna Brager and Jami Sailor refer to as “an intervention by underground cultural producers in the academic project of archiving and “academising” the subcultural practices in which we participate” (Sailor, 2010: p. 1). This also aligns with the aims of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies’ manifesto, which calls for practitioners and researchers to “critically engage with the proposition that heritage studies needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, which requires the ‘ruthless criticism of everything existing’” (Association of Critical Heritage Studies, 2012: online). 

This interdisciplinary event will draw together researchers, cultural producers and practitioners to collectively explore the politics, practices and methodologies underpinning these projects. Collectively we will explore the following key questions: 
•    What methods do DIY cultural producers and organiser utilise to document and record their collective histories? 
•    How are archives of DIY cultures created, managed, preserved, described and accessed? 
•    What does a DIY model of archival practice look like? 
•    How can DIY communities be supported to document and archive their own histories? 
•    How does social media and digital record creation affect or change record keeping practices in DIY cultures? 

  • Award £2000
  • Photo © Everardo Sanchez on Unsplash

The Interpretation of Medieval Hospitals, Wellbeing and the Historic Environment – A Pilot Collaboration

Dr Johanna Dale, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow and Dr Antonio Sennis, Senior Lecturer, (UCL History)

Maldon ruins
The ruins of the medieval leper hospital of St Giles in Maldon are a unique survival within Essex and the site is one of only a small number of medieval hospitals to survive nationally.  Our project is a pilot collaboration with Maldon Town Council, who are responsible for this scheduled ancient monument, and seeks both to raise the profile of the site and boost its value as a community asset through the development of a heritage walking route and also to begin to explore the way in which medieval medical heritage sites could contribute to the debates about wellbeing in the historic environment.

The St Giles ruins are a 20-minute walk from the town centre, surrounded by post-war residential development and often overlooked.  Through collaborating in the establishment of a medieval heritage walking route we shall raise awareness of the existence of the hospital ruins by connecting them both to the town and also to other medieval sites that were important in the hospital's history.  In doing so we shall re-establish important medieval routes around the town, routes that lost significance following the dissolution of the monasteries and further fell in status thanks to the invention of the motor car, but which provide important information about the role of the hospital in the life of the medieval town.  

Beyond this we seek to contribute to the debate about the wellbeing agenda in a heritage context.  The medieval period is often considered in public discourse to have been a time of limited science, the so-called 'dark ages', yet alongside now discredited theories about the humours and astrology, many of the approaches medieval people took to looking after the body still have currency in the modern era, for example, a focus on an appropriate diet, physical exercise and personal hygiene.  Medieval practitioners were also well aware of the importance of mental health and often took a more compassionate approach to the sick than is promoted in popular culture.  How could health practices and attitudes to illness in the medieval period contribute to the promotion of physical and mental wellbeing in a heritage context? As medieval leper hospitals are often, wrongly, characterised as places where the sick were excluded from society, what could reinterpretations of these sites contribute to discourses of inclusion and exclusion in modern society? How could an appreciation of an early society's response to sickness challenge modern paradigms of wellbeing?  

  • Award £1765
  • Photo © Maldon ruins by Johanna Dale

    Cataloguing Maroon forest-based traditions and knowledge during the process of conservation change

    Lydia Gibson, UCL Anthropology, Minke Newman, University of West Indies & Keron Campbell, Natural History Museum, Jamaica

    Cockpit Country is a dense, inhospitable forest, in the west-central plateau of Jamaica home to many endemic and threatened animal and plant species. It is also home to the Accompong Maroons who have inhabited the forest’s southern region for 400 years after successful defence against British recapture using extensive forest knowledge. Anti-mining campaigns (of which the Maroons were part) culminated in increased public awareness and the reluctant designation of Cockpit Country as a protected area. Despite the success of these efforts, tripartite tensions between the state, conservationists, and the Maroons (recognised as an indigenous group, both nationally and globally) continue to grow. 

    The Maroons, assumed to have lost their forest-based traditions to modernisation, still rely extensively on the forest for subsistence and the maintenance of customary practices (that are on the edge of cultural destruction). Increasing conservation efforts have begun to criminalise centuries-old practices and place inadvertent strain on the performance of their identity. The newly-designated protected area, which is currently under development, may further compound cultural loss as activities and livelihoods within the forest become riskier and consequently less worthwhile. 

    This project has three main aims: a) to catalogue many of these traditions (unknown to the outside world) through film to preserve Maroon heritage for future generations; b) to raise awareness of the potential cultural destruction the Maroons face during this conservation process; and c) to encourage conservationists to consider the use of indigenous ecological knowledge and resource use in conservation design as it results in both more robust science and environmentally-just outcomes. A series of four short films on areas of Maroon forest-based customs (hunting, craft-making, drumming, and subsistence) will be made in collaboration with the Maroon Youth Council and used to create a digital and photographic exhibition that will be displayed at the Natural History Museum of Jamaica before returning to Accompong village where it will have a permanent exhibition space and used in the village’s annual Culture Camp to show younger generations the centuries-old customs, as well as livelihood options, that remain in the forest. Finally, a workshop will be organised for conservationists, NGOs, and state departments (such as the Forestry Department and National Environment Protection Agency) to encourage more engagement with the indigenous Maroons to find solutions to biodiversity conservation that allows the continued practice of sustainable traditions. 

    • Award £2170
    • Photo © Cockpit country (2018) Lydia Gibson

    Botanical materiality and wellbeing at Borneo laboratory

    Camilla Sundwall, PhD candidate Department of Anthropology, UCL

    This project has been born out of the passion of understanding how environments, practices and material substances influence wellbeing. Personal wellbeing is closely interlinked with communal and environmental wellbeing, and one cannot be isolated from the others. With rapid changes to welfare systems around the world, and increasing physical and mental epidemics such as obesity, depression, various cancers, diabetes etc. many are looking for alternative remedies outside of modern Western medicine.

    With this in mind, the intention for this project is to work at the intersection between traditional wellbeing practices in Borneo and modern health practices, through an exploration of the materiality of agarwood. Often referred to as ‘the most expensive ingredient on earth’, the oil derived from agarwood has been used for millennia in healing and religious practices, and is currently used as a luxury ingredient in modern perfumes and researched for its anti-inflammatory properties. This unusual type of wood is bound up in complex trade networks, commercial exploitation, and today serves as a way of building sustainable forestry as well as providing income to local communities.

    We will tap into the various aspects of agarwood and its networks, and hope to highlight its benefits for personal wellbeing, community building and environmental protection. We will also discuss problems arising around the commercialisation of this usual type of wood, and what impact western self-care and natural DIY-beauty might have on local communities.

    During the research we will engage local and global communities handling trade regulations, plantations and processing, and using agarwood. The project will culminate in a hands-on workshop where we explore the properties of oud oil derived from agarwood alongside other natural ingredients and learn how to make our own customised products with specific wellbeing properties. The progress will be documented and presented in an exhibition at Borneo Laboratories as well as online, which will serve as the foundation for a continued project and network.

    • Award £3230


    Digital Archaeology and Heritage of the Mau Mau Emergency

    Gabriel Moshenska, Senior Lecturer in Public Archaeology, UCL Institute of Archaeology, Olivia Windham Stewart, Museum of British Colonialism & Tayiana Chao, African digital Heritage 

    This project aims to study and record the archaeological heritage of the Mau Mau Emergency in Kenya (1953-64), an anti-colonial struggle during which suspected militants as well as many civilians were interned, used as forced labour, tortured and executed. The project is a collaboration with two organisations: The Museum of British Colonialism and African Digital Heritage. In this pilot stage of the project we are planning to travel to Kenya to meet with current and prospective partner organisations, to explore funding sources for the main project, and to conduct feasibility studies on the sites of two former detention camps which are now boarding schools. The aims of the project are:

    •    To develop innovative digital archaeology and heritage approaches to the traces of the Mau Mau Emergency, working in partnership with stakeholder groups in Kenya.
    •    Through these collaborations, to develop approaches to archiving, exhibitions, and archaeological heritage management that meet local needs and interests, now and in the future.
    •    Through this work, to critically engage with the heritage narratives concerning Imperialism and Colonialism in Kenya and in Britain.

    In this preliminary stage, the proposed activities are aimed at laying the foundations for the wider project, principally:

    •    Travelling to Kenya to meet with potential partners and heritage organisations.
    •    Identifying and meeting with community and individual stakeholders.
    •    Identifying and meeting with potential sources of institutional support in Kenya, including state and civil society organisations such as National Museums Kenya and Kenya Human Rights Commission.
    •    Conducting site visits to assess the feasibility of different forms of fieldwork and recording including crowdsourcing, the use of satellite data, and oral history projects.

    Site visits will focus on examining the surviving material traces of the detention camp infrastructure including fences, guard towers and other elements of the security infrastructure; prisoner barracks, kitchens, clinics and toilets; cells and punishment infrastructure; and administrative buildings. We will assess the likely presence of graves on the sites. This work will consist of walkover surveys with recording by photographs, GPS and written notes – including photographs taken for the purpose of 3D reconstruction through photogrammetry. No excavation or artefact collection will take place at this preliminary stage.

    • Award £2000
    • Photo © (2018) by Gabriel Moshenska

    The Cinema Space in the Post-Crisis City

    Timothy P. A. Cooper and Vindhya Buthpitiya, doctoral students at UCL Anthropolo

    In the rapidly changing urban landscapes of Jaffna and Lahore the social and public space of cinema halls are recognisable for their longevity and resilience amid insurgency, war, securitization and infrastructural breakdown. The Cinema Space in the Post-Crisis City explores such urban cinemas as symbols of state-enforced amnesia, spaces for fostering sociality, and collective attempts to remember. Conducted through ethnographic research in Jaffna and Lahore the project seeks to contribute to an understanding of how belonging and exclusion are forged in the built heritage of urban cinemas.

    In Pakistan cinemas have been seized upon as sites of violent dissension and social negotiation. Countrywide riots in 2012 destroyed dozens of inner-city cinemas. More recently, the opening of multiplex cinemas in gated developments, screening Urdu-language and Indian films, contrasts with the decline of the Punjabi-language film industry. These conflicts are exacerbated by a widespread belief that such inner-city cinemas are dens of vulgarity, pornography, and baadmaash (hooligan) culture. Such prevalent unease over the public place of film and cinema-going in Pakistan is evidenced by annual periods of exception such as Muharram and Ramazan, religious festivals in which filmgoing is considered ill-suited to states of mourning and devotion.

    The similar ways in which linguistic ethno-nationalism in Lahore and Jaffna is manifested in the treatment of minority communities’ cinema halls tells a wider story of institutional and military collaboration. A number of Sri Lanka-Pakistan co-productions from the 1970s - 1990s became precursors to military support, which saw Pakistan send advisors and supplies to support the state campaign against the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam).

    During the war years (1983-2009) cinema spaces in the North and East of Sri Lanka became places of social and political significance. Prior to the war, cinemas were vibrant sites for socialising, shaped around an obsession with South Indian Tamil Cinema. After the 1980s, the LTTE actively utilised film as central to its nation-building project. Cinemas would also become sites of political violence at the hands of other competing militant groups who took advantage of their spacious interiors and parking lots for use as internment or transit camps, and interrogation chambers. Against a backdrop shaped by government embargoes larger cinemas closed, making way for ‘mini theatres’ centred around makeshift screens. These provided patrons escape from not only the overwhelming realities of war, but also the lived segregation of caste and class.

    • Award £1977
    • Photo Cinema Halls in Jaffna and Lahore © (2018) Vindhya Buthpitiya and Timothy P.A. Cooper

    Leveraging Heritage for Just Infrastructural Urbanism in Myanmar

    Catalina Ortiz, UCL DPU, lecturer & Giovanna Astolfo, UCL DPU, teaching fellow/research associate.

    This is a collaborative project between The Bartlett Development Planning Unit and the Urban Lab to generate new grounds for an innovative research proposal that explores the intersection between heritage, infrastructure and spatial justice in the midst of political transition. Particularly, the project examines the ways in which power and resistance operates in the management of historic sites during socialist transitions in Yangon, Myanmar. Delving into ideas of heritage as both a space and a set of (power) relations and daily practices through which that space is shaped, contested and negotiated, the project wishes to confront how civil society organizations shape their agency in the city transformation and the options to leverage heritage to promote equitable mobility and spatial justice.
    Funding from UCL CCHS will support the organisation of a one-day workshop in London with Burmese partners and the preparatory deskwork to prepare an application for research funding.
    Time line:
    Mid Nov – end Dec 2018 : Literature + policy review (cultural heritage + urban mobility)
    January 2019: Case for support: first draft and feedback
    February: Organisation and implementation of the workshop + panel discussion
    March – May: Updated Case for Support

    • Award £3500
    • Photo © Myanmar (2018)  by Catalina Ortiz

    Towards a systemic understanding of  natural and cultural heritage values in rural remote areas: a route to sustainable management

    PhD Candidate  Eirini Gallou, ISH,UCL
    Dr.Georgios Alexopoulos, Research Associate, IoA, UCL

    A pilot research project, aspiring to offer new insights for Critical Heritage Studies, towards developing systemic theoretical frameworks for the understanding of cultural and natural heritage management and decision-making.
    The workshop will build on existing academic research for the development of a UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) reserve on Samothraki island in Greece, a designation expected to provide added value in guiding socioeconomic development on the island (and partially deflecting ways to development from single -focused tourism-led approaches), including a big zone with many cultural heritage assets within its borders.
    The interactive workshop, to be realized on the island consists of two parts: the first includes discussion and presentations by invited speakers representing the local authority, the local Ephorate of antiquities as well as locally based environmental managers working on protected areas within the proposed MAB area, while the second is participatory workshop on values, behaviors and risks on a landscape level, aiming to include local community and wider stakeholders.
    Local community will be invited through open announcement via the local council’s webpage-civic society representatives. Suggested partners include representatives of: local authority of Samothrace, Local Associations and NGOs active on natural and cultural heritage sectors and officials responsible for the proposal for designation.
    Project Outcomes will include a collaboratively produced conceptual map, holding data on risks and challenges for protection of various sites on the island, which will be analyzed by applying an innovative systemic approach, aiming to link various stakeholders’ actions.
    This may be used by the local authority/ planning department to pursue designation decisions, enhance management of protected sites within the MAB area and inform its current databases with significance related information.
    The workshop more than everything has the potential to increase understanding and trust between the various stakeholders involved and support a collaborative model of management, with the support of scientific research methods. The visit will assist in creating a network of stakeholders and understanding practical challenges for managers in cultural/natural heritage protection that could stimulate and guide further research.
    The project, acting as a pilot project, has the potential to enable preparation of a bigger research funding application and a publication, as it allows development of a methodology to discuss trade-offs in resource management and pathways to change that can benefit both communities and sites, while looking at a systemic interaction of values and actions.

    • Award £2000
    • Photo Springs of Fonias © (2018) Gallou


    Contested cultural Heritage: Politics surrounding Pang Mapha's Prehistoric Log Coffin Cultureving

    By Victoria N. Scott, Doctoral student, UCL Anthropology and Udomluck Hoontrakul, Lecturer of Anthropology, Thammasart University

    This is a collaborative project between the Anthropology Departments of UCL and Thammasart University, Thailand, to explore the political, cultural, social and economic dynamics surrounding the prehistoric log coffins of Pang Mapha in Mae Hong Son Province, northwestern Thailand. Rather than being intrinsic to places and objects, heritage is a culturally ascribed and a socially conditioned concept. As heritage can be relative, reflective and relational in nature, several parties have staked ownership over these sites, including ethnic minority groups, national parks and governmental bodies. Each party appropriates the regions' local heritage for their own interests and agendas that are bound up with wider issues of nationalism, economic development and geo-politics. The aim of this project is to uncover how these sites are being used for their respective political, social, cultural and economic agendas at a global, national and local scale, and to explore their possible implications.

    Funding from UCL Centre for Critical Heritage Studies will support exploratory fieldwork in northwestern Thailand and the presentation of these results disseminated through research seminars at both the collaborators' institutional departments.

    • award £2260
    • Photo © Victoria N. Scott Jabo Log Coffin Cave, northwestern Thailand



    Communism in the Vernacular: international imaginaries, local politics

    By Natasha Eaton, Reader in History of Art, UCL Department History of Art & Pragya Dhital, visiting Research Fellow at the IAS and Teaching fellow in Anthropology at SOAS

    This symposium built upon the success of the previous workshop "Insurgency in the archives: the politics and aesthetics of sedition in colonial India" (IAS, UCL, 12-13 January 2018) to consider in fresh perspective its panel themes of "Communism in the Vernacular" and "Archiving Revolution". British anxiety about Soviet incursions in the strategically important South Asia region was such that Russian literature in translation was automatically banned, and the British Library and Indian National Archive's collection of publications proscribed in colonial India (the focus of the sedition workshop) is particularly rich in communist and revolutionary literature.

    This symposium extended the geographic scope of the sedition workshop to consider connections between South and Central Asia, which culminated in the formation of the Communist Party of India in Tashkent in 1920. It combined social and intellectual history to deal with the dissemination of communist ideas across both regions through material culture and popular print.

    The event built upon the strengths of various UCL centres and departments to discuss vernacular intellectual and artistic traditions, pre-existing connections between Central and South Asia, newer 'south-south' ties forged by more recent imperial expansion and the international protest against it. It focused on how an 'elite' discourse of communist internationalism aligned with a 'popular' politics of anti-colonial nationalism, often involving both accommodation with and transformation of caste, religious and regional identities.

    The symposium was scheduled to coincide with the 2018 UCL Festival of Culture (4-8th June) and the UCL Centre for the Study of South Asia graduate conference (7-8th June). Participants at both events attended the keynote lecture and performance of revolutionary poetry and song with which the symposium will began and concluded. By bringing together scholars working on South and Central Asia, the event also anticipates the IAS conference on Area Studies in Flux, which will take place 28 September 2018.

    • award £2000
    • 8 june 2018 : symposium Communism in the vernacular
    • 28 September 2018: conference on Area Studies in Flux
    • Poster © Aratrika Choudhury, based on a communist banner in Azerbaijan, Congress of the Peoples of the East, Baku, 1920



    Mapping Memory Routes

    By Dr Alda Terracciano, UCL Honorary Research Associate & Prof. Muki Haklay, UCL Department of Geography

    This is a collaborative project between UCL departments of Information Studies and Geography, and external, non-academic organisations to test a participatory design methodology developed by artist-researcher Dr Terracciano with the aim of developing a wider research project on eliciting Community Memories for culturally diverse digital archives.

    The project uses a cross-disciplinary approach to the themes explored by the CCHS Embracing the Archive cluster, of which Dr Terracciano is one of the leaders, through a new collaboration with Muki Haklay, professor of GIScience, and members of the Curve Community Centre, which supports survivors of the Grenfell Tower, providing mental health services, legal advice and cultural activities.

    The project grows from Mapping Memory Routes of Moroccan Communities, devised by Dr Terracciano and produced by the not-for-profit organisation ALDATERRA Projects with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. In its first iteration the project involved 44 intergenerational members of the Moroccan community living, working or visiting Golborne Road (also known as little Morocco) in a series of memory sessions focused on their everyday life, cultural heritage, sense of home, and identity. These memories are shared in an interactive multisensory digital installation Zelige Door on Golborne Road using AR and olfactory technologies to facilitate audiences' virtual interaction with the place represented as a living museum of intangible cultural Moroccan heritage.

    For this new project Terracciano's methodology and Mapping for Change research tools will be used to support local communities to identify and single out the intangible local heritage of culturally diverse and migrant communities in areas of West London currently experiencing high levels of gentrification and urban development.  This will be achieved through workshop sessions focussed on mapping out areas of cultural heritage relevance to the participants, and identifying new technological approaches for sharing such intangible heritages with wider audiences.

    • Award £2000
    • 1 - 6 May 2018 ''Zelige Door on Golborne road'' an inter-active, multi-sensory installation
    • Photo by Andy Wasley, 2017. courtesy of Aldaterra Projects.


    Putting South Asia on Display

    By Dr Lally Jaggjeet, Lecturer, UCL Department of History & Prof. Tariq Jazeel, Reader, UCL Department of Geography

    What does it mean to display South Asia's rich heritage in the former colonial metropole, in museums established at the height of British imperial power, and in receipt of global financial flows larger than those pouring into South Asian museums themselves today? How do museum curators and staff navigate the challenge of engaging audiences increasingly heterogeneous in terms of their background, relation to, and knowledge of the British Empire or South Asia, not least diaspora communities and visitors from the subcontinent? How do such challenges translate into problems for architects and graphic designers, whose work is as intimately intertwined with visitor experience/engagement as it is with the culturally, historically, and politically appropriate representation of heritage in various forms, from choices of typeface to the display of objects 'in context'? Are 'Area Studies' galleries even relevant today, or is it the responsibility of museums, if it not driven by the appetite of visitors themselves, to integrate artefacts from the Indian subcontinent into existing galleries of fine arts and architecture, design and technology, migration and urban space, or other categories? Exactly who wants a 'South Asia' gallery anyway? These questions form the basis of a series of workshops and a conference between curators, museum staff, scholars, and practitioners:

    • Award: £1000
    • a closed workshop under Chatham House Rules: the Challenges of Putting South Asia on Display.
    • 28 September 2018 : The Past, Present, and Future of South Asian Heritage, public conference.



      Archiving Academies in Early Modern Italy

      By Lisa Sampson, Reader, UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities

      This project aims at developing new methodologies and piloting digital technologies for archiving the early modern Italian Academies, their activities and networks across Italy and beyond. The research takes forward resources compiled during a major AHRC-funded project (on which I was CI, 2010-14) on The Italian Academies: The First Intellectual Networks of Early Modern Europe.

      It involves collaboration with the Medici Archive Project, Florence (Italy) as well as academic colleagues in Italy and in the UK, including at the UCL Centre for Early Modern Exchanges and Centre for Editing Lives and Letters.

      The academies, or learned societies, of Italy formed a significant aspect of social and intellectual culture, with over 800 such groupings flourishing over the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Multidisciplinary in their interests, bridging the arts and sciences, they functioned alongside institutions like universities, courts, and religious bodies, offering alternative forums for intellectual and social interaction. Members were drawn from different social classes, including also women and intellectuals from outside Italy. While substantial data has been compiled on academies connected to print publications held in the British Library through the AHRC-funded Italian Academies project and recently made available for download, the archival records of the academies today still remain fragmented and dispersed, often lost from sight across different archives and libraries. This situation is a result of various factors, including the often brief duration of academies, their marginal or even heterodox status with respect to official cultures, negative historiography, invisibility in cataloguing systems, as well as a host of material factors and political and cultural agendas surrounding heritage preservation.

      The proposed present project therefore proposes to interrogate critically the forms and meanings of academy archives in relation to broader issues of cultural heritage. It will thereby challenge historical narratives on academies and begin developing an open-access, sustainable digital resource, building on recent developments in digital humanities and critical heritage studies, which will significantly update the only previous such endeavour (Maylender's catalogue, 1926-30). Events organized to meet these objectives include a symposium on June 28: 'Archiving the Italian Academies: Critical methodologies and digital tools' and a public concert with pre-concert talk on 17 September 2018.

      • Award: £1920
      • Photo by Lisa Sampson: Archivio di Stato, Modena, Cancelleria ducale, b. 'Academie'
      • 28 June 2018 : one day symposium
      • 17 September 2018: concert


      Research network: Critical Conservation and Church Communities

      By Dr James Hales, Senior Teaching Fellow in conservation, UCL Institute of Archaeology

      Research Network: "Critical Conservation and Church Communities. The maintenance and conservation of historic places of worship and their impact on current and future communities"

      What will be the central focus of a research network?

      The research network will act as a think-tank for applied research into the care of places of worship. This will frame a critical approach to churches as integrated complex systems that need to be cared for, rather than a set of component parts that need to be preserved. In a broader critical review of 'conservation for church mission' the research network will address the need for diverse non-congregational participation in church life. This research will examine the potential rediscovery of traditional management systems ruptured by congregation declines, rural depopulations, and urban migrations. It will consider the transition of church buildings from sacred to secular, from heritage to contemporary places of community focus.

      The research network will explore fundamental questions relating to the care and development of church buildings and their communities such as: who determines conservation strategies for historic church buildings ? For whose benefit are decisions about the conservation and maintenance of historic churches being made? Who's past is being preserved and whose future is being created? Who is included, and by definition who is excluded?

      Who will be involved?

      Potential partners include: Church Buildings Council, UCL Institute of Archaeology, CCHS, University of Gothenburg (Department of Conservation), Church of Sweden, University of York (Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture), SPAB (The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings), CCT (Churches Conservation Trust), NCT (National Churches Trust).


      Research outputs would seek to transform institutional policy and practice, and support sustainable approaches to the maintenance of churches and associated communities. Research will be targeted at developing locally present systems of maintenance that serve as alternatives to current approaches based on the failure of systems of care which then necessitate interventive conservation projects to repair the damage caused by neglect. The network will support research that serves to create resilient church community groups, by promoting conservation strategies designed for the rehabilitation and sustainability of churches and their communities.

      • Award: £1989
      • Photo by James Hales: Interior of St Nicholas'Church, stanford-on-Avon.

      Reviving the Ancient Maritime Silk Road: The Politics of Heritage Instrumentalisation in Asia's Port Cities

      By Dr Yunci Cai, Doctoral student, UCL Institute of Archaeology & Prof. Paul Basu, Professor, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, SOAS

      In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled plans for an ambitious development strategy, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), aimed at enhancing the trade cooperation and infrastructural connectivity between China and the Eurasian countries, based on reinvigorating two ancient trading routes: the overland Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) connecting China to Europe, and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road (MSR) connecting China to the Middle East through South and Southeast Asia. The BRI seeks to revitalise the historical precedents of the 'Silk Road' to facilitate the formation of a new world order and a re-organised world economy led by China, based on the principles of cooperation, co-existence and shared prosperity (Zhao 2015; Xin 2017). Hailed as China's new Silk Road diplomacy, the BRI mollifies China's rapidly growing geo-political and economic power as a 'peaceful rise', aimed at cultivating good relations with its neighbouring countries, unlike the Western powers which seek control and domination of the trading routes through territorial expansion and colonialisation (Wong 2014).

      A much overlooked and under-analysed aspect of the BRI lies in China's emphasis to promote 'people-to-people' connections through the initiative, which has hitherto been narrowly focused on China's 'soft power' strategy, ignoring how the BRI narrative is intricately entangled with the complex histories and cultures of the Silk Road (Winter 2016). The diversity of histories and cultures that underlie the notion of the historic Silk Road renders it susceptible to instrumentalisation by different countries and their multiple stakeholders, who strategically mobilise and appropriate these historical and cultural entanglements and flows to serve their own ends. To this end, China has portrayed the Silk Road as a flourishing interregional corridor of peaceful commodity trade, and harmonious intercultural exchanges of people, ideas and technologies. China's Silk Road rhetoric is also eagerly appropriated by other national governments which perceive the BRI as an opportunity for realising their own ambitions of foreign trade and economic growth.

      This research seeks to explore the political, economic, social, and cultural dynamics surrounding the process of heritage instrumentalisation at a selection of port cities along the historic maritime Silk Road. Drawing on the politics of heritage instrumentalisation as a conceptual framework and expanding it to incorporate other dynamics relating to brokerage, soft power and dissonance, this research examines how different stakeholders in these port cities strategically mobilise their maritime history and heritage, especially the narrative of the historic maritime Silk Road, to further their respective agendas, and the results of this instrumentalisation. As heritage is a culturally ascribed concept shaped by power relations and embroiled in questions of who it belongs to, who has the right to represent it and for whom it represented, the representation of the historic maritime Silk Road discourse by different stakeholders often involves a selection of some aspects of the maritime history and heritage which are privileged and emphasised, while other aspects are downplayed or omitted. The representation of the histories and cultures along the maritime Silk Road therefore involves complex negotiations and renegotiations among the multiple stakeholders based on their respective self-interests and agendas, which are in turn bound up with wider issues of geo-politics, economic development and nationalism. This research seeks to uncover these political, economic, social and cultural dynamics that traverse the global, national and local scales, and their implications on people and places. It is expected to identify the key stakeholders instrumentalising the historic maritime Silk Road discourse in the different port cities, uncover their respective interests and agendas, as well as reveal how they have been instrumentalising the historic maritime Silk Road discourse to serve their own ends.

      Historic port cities that are being considered as case studies for this research include Quanzhou in China, Melaka in Malaysia, as well as Palembang or Semarang in Indonesia. The small grant of GBP 2,460 from the UCL Centre for Critical Heritage Studies was used to support an exploratory fieldwork to China, Malaysia and Indonesia to identify key focus areas at each port city of study, secure access to these field-sites, and seek out potential local collaborators. As of March 2018, Dr. Yunci Cai has conducted a fieldtrip to China, and discussed the project with potential collaborators based in China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. Arising from these visits and discussions, the Directors of Quanzhou Maritime Museum in Quanzhou, China, and the Cheng Ho Cultural Museum in Melaka, Malaysia have extended their in-principle agreement to collaborate on the project. She has plans to visit the rest of the field-sites in July and August 2018.

      This research contributes to the theme of Making Global Heritage Futures (MGHF) in two ways. First, it explores how the historic maritime Silk Road discourse is mobilised by different stakeholders within the ongoing political, economic, social and cultural processes that traverse local, national and global scales, and the outcomes of this mobilisation on people and places. Second, it informs policy-making relating to China's BRI, one of the world's most ambitious multilateral development strategy in recent times. By understanding how the different stakeholders at the different port cities along the maritime Silk Road mobilise the historic maritime Silk Road discourse to achieve their respective agendas, and the outcomes of this mobilisation at the local, national and global levels, this research complicates the positive rhetoric of the BRI adopted by China that this will lead to promote peaceful trade and harmonious intercultural exchanges of people, ideas and technologies. By uncovering the complex dynamics surrounding the instrumentalisation of cultural heritage along the historic maritime Silk Road, this research opens up avenues to think about how each port city can capitalise on the BRI to seek win-win collaborations while mitigate its negative implications on its people and places.

      • Award: £2460
      • Photo by Yunci Cai, a diorama of Ming dynasty Chinese Admiral Zhen He at the Cheng Ho Cultural Museum in Melaka, Malysia. UNESCO Heritage site since 2008, is an important port city visited by Zheng He during his voyages, and now is a key focus of China Belt and Road initiative.

        Moving Objects: Heritage in/and Exile

      By Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Reader, UCL Geography and UCL Migration Research Unit & Helen Chatterjee, Professor of Biology in UCL Biosciences.

      This collaborative project will result in a co-curated exhibition, 'Moving Objects: Heritage in/and Exile', to be held at UCL in early 2019. In creating this collaborative exhibition, this project will work across disciplines and bring together academics, forced migrants, museum collectors and practitioners to consider and collectively 'label' artefacts, objects and collections of oral history, music and poetry that have variously been 'exiled' and/or represent different facets of displacement.

      In particular, through the convening of three workshops, which will be attended by UCL students, London-based refugees, project partners and leading academics, this project will explore: how collections can be formed and 'reformed' in relation to conflict and displacement; how displaced people themselves relate to and reinterpret artefacts 'housed' and 'labelled' by UCL Museums (including the Petrie Collection of Palestinian artefacts housed at UCL); how refugees and asylum-seekers in London and in the Middle East interpret and conceptualise diverse artefacts, both 'new' and 'old, and; how these conceptualisations relate to the curation of such objects by colleagues working in and about museums and cultural heritage. These workshops, which will take place in the summer, will provide a space to focus on creative projects to imaginatively construct one's own cabinet of curiosities featuring objects that participants identify/create as 'empowering' in contexts of displacement.

      This emphasis on 'empowerment' and heritage - or on the relationship between heritage and wellbeing - is a key driving force behind this project, dovetailing in particular with the research of the project leads, Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (Geography) and Prof Helen Chatterjee (Biology). Elena is investigating local community experiences of and responses to displacement from Syria in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, exploring in particular the diverse role(s) memory, history and heritage play in 'making place' and shaping encounters between refugees and hosts. Likewise, Helen is exploring in her research the value of cultural encounters to health, wellbeing and education in conflict and displacement settings. Both Helen and Elena will bring their project findings into conversation with the curation of this exhibition, creating opportunities for the production of new knowledge with and about displaced peoples, and models for 'heritage futures'.

      In this context, although the exhibition is itself the focus of this project, the most important elements of 'Moving Objects' are precisely the processes and journeys that project participants and their selected objects will navigate through all stages of co-curation. By focusing on a process of collaborative engagement with archives, collections, artefacts and people affected by displacement, this project will produce a model of heritage as wellbeing, with important implications for UCL-based research, heritage studies and conflict-affected communities.

      • Award: £2060
      • May-June 2018 Critical Reflections and Practices Workshop: Steps towards Co-Curating a 'Moving Objects: Heritage in/and Exile'Exhibition
      • February 2019: Moving Objects: Heritage in/and Exile' exhibition in UCL Octagon gallery
      • Photo © H. Chatterjee - Workshop participants consider wellbeing and heritage through art and creativity