Welcome to Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies

Centre for Heritage & Museum Studies

Welcome to the Centre for Heritage & Museum Studies

The Centre aims to promote and develop critical heritage and museum studies as an interdisciplinary area of academic analysis, and explore its intersections with memory studies and public history, as well as anthropology, archaeology and tourism studies. We want to stimulate new ways of thinking about and understanding the cultural and political phenomenon of ‘heritage’, and the way this interacts with cultural and public policy, management practices, cultural institutions and community and other grassroots expressions of identity, citizenship, nation and sense of place.

A particular focus of research and teaching in the Centre is the interlinking of a range of social justice issues with expressions of material heritage and/or intangible heritage, and staff at the Centre are at the forefront of the Critical Heritage Studies movement.

Our work has explored, amongst other issues, working with marginalised communities, social justice issues and social activism in museums, the commemorative and memorial practices of working class communities and the trade union movement, Aboriginal critiques of heritage, multiculturalism and museums.  While Centre staff are keen to pursue research that goes beyond issues of management and curation, we nonetheless aim to integrate research into practice and policy with a critical examination of the social, cultural and political ‘work’ that heritage does in society.

We aim to attract postgraduate research and coursework students who are interested in pushing the boundaries of what critical heritage, museum studies, memory studies and public history and studies of tourism can do, and creating a vibrant international and interdisciplinary community of scholars to pursue this vision. Centre staff edit the following journals: the International Journal of Heritage Studies [link], the foremost journal in the field; Museum Worlds, an innovative new journal committed to significantly advancing knowledge of global trends, case studies and theory relevant to museum practice and scholarship around the world; and Landscape Research, one of the leading journals in the field of landscape-related research.

Staff in the centre contribute to postgraduate and undergraduate teaching, and while providing students with a background in practical and policy issues, also aim to provide critical insights, drawn from staff research, into the social and political consequences of heritage practice.  In addition, the Centre’s vigorous intern program, drawing on extensive and long term industry connections and partnerships allow students to develop professional expertise and experience. These opportunities are facilitated by the depth of our relationship with national cultural institutions based in the Australian capital, such as the National Museum of Australia.

What is ‘Heritage and Museum Studies’?

Heritage and Museum Studies at the ANU draws together two related areas of study, cultural and natural heritage and museums and collections. These areas examine, contribute to, and theorise the processes by which heritage is produced and consumed. We also very actively pursue research in public history and memory and tourism studies, and see the links between these areas and heritage and museum studies as crucial to the development of all these areas of research and practice.

This developing field of study recognises that heritage finds expression not only in material culture, but also in intangible cultural events and performances, and that heritage is intimately linked to expressions of identity, sense of place and the processes of remembering, forgetting and commemoration. It endeavours to expand understanding about the purposes for which heritage and museums have been employed by stakeholder and audiences, ranging from local communities or agencies, to state and national governments and international agencies. It develops an integrated understanding of the way heritage is managed and exhibited, with critical explorations of the cultural and political work that heritage does in society.

Centre Staff: Who are we and what do we do?

The Centre hosts a number of senior staff who are at the forefront of theoretical and critical developments in heritage and museum studies, as well as early and mid-career researchers and emeritus, adjunct and visiting scholars, who all contribute to the Centre’s dynamic environment and culture of research excellence.

Staff have area expertise in diverse geographic regions, including Australia, Europe, Malaysia, China, Thailand, North and South America and the Pacific. Staff members’ research and teaching strengths include historical and contemporary Australian museum collections, Indigenous material culture, rock art, intangible heritage, historic and contact sites in Australia and the Asia-Pacific, memory and commemoration, including difficult heritage and sites of trauma, theorizations of the nature and experience of heritage and heritage practices, the international policy context and politics of national museums, cultural politics and the political cultures of globalisation, and theoretical ideas about the role of nation and changing conceptions of cultural identity and diversity.

General areas of study include heritage and museum public policy, heritage and collections management, interpretation and exhibition development, visitor studies and the politics of nation, community and cultural diversity in relation to museums and heritage.

Updated:  5 December 2017/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications