Academic journals: Heritage & Society

Journal summary: Heritage & Society provides a forum for scholarly, professional, and community reflection on the cultural, political, and economic impacts of heritage on contemporary society. It seeks to examine the current social roles of collective memory, historic preservation, cultural resource management, public interpretation, cultural preservation and revitalization, sites of conscience, diasporic heritage, education, legal/legislative developments, cultural heritage ethics, and central heritage concepts such as authenticity, significance, and value. The journal provides an engaging forum about tangible and intangible heritage for those who work with international and governmental organizations, academic institutions, private heritage consulting and CRM firms, and local, associated, and indigenous communities. With a special emphasis on social science approaches and an international perspective, the journal facilitates lively, critical discussion and dissemination of practical data among heritage professionals, planners, policymakers, and community leaders.

Publisher: Routledge

Website: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/yhso20

Access: Subscription; some open-access articles

Journal type: Academic peer-reviewed

Academic journals: Future Anterior

Journal summary: An international point of reference for the critical examination of historic preservation. Future Anterior approaches historic preservation from a position of critical inquiry, rigorous scholarship, and theoretical analysis. The journal is an international forum for the critical examination of historic preservation, spurring challenges of its assumptions, goals, methods, and results. As the first journal in American academia devoted to the study and advancement of historic preservation, it provides a much-needed bridge between architecture and history. The journal also features provocative theoretical reflections on historic preservation from the point of view of art, philosophy, law, geography, archaeology, planning materials science, cultural anthropology, and conservation.

Publisher: Minnesota University Press on behalf of Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP)

Website: https://www.upress.umn.edu/journal-division/journals/future-anterior

Access: Subscription

Journal type: Academic peer-reviewed

Academic journals: furnace journal

Journal summary: furnace aims to provide an open and multidisciplinary journal relating to all aspects of international cultural heritage. Each biannual edition has a theme, specified on the website and in the call for papers. It is published and managed by postgraduate and doctoral students at the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, University of Birmingham.

Publisher: Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (IIICH), University of Birmingham

Website: https://furnacejournal.wordpress.com/

Access: Open access

Journal type: Postgraduate and doctoral student academic peer-reviewed

Reflecting on the RSA’s #HeritageIndex

RSA heritage index 2015 coverThe RSA has recently launched the first iteration of the Heritage Index in association with the Heritage Lottery Fund.  For the first time it has brought together a disparate range of data outputs which can be categorised according to whether they are heritage assets or heritage activities.  Correlations are then made between them, with factoring for density of activity / asset, population, and weighting according to the perceived importance of the the category type.  The methodology is explored within a short film, accompanying technical report, and data which can be explored through manipulation of the summary dataset in an excel file, or via the web-based visualisations which make good use of spatial data presentation techniques.

This forms part of a larger project which the RSA is working on, looking at the opportunities and challenges for ‘place development’ – of importance in a political and public services landscape of regionalisation and localism and expectation of ever greater value for money for public investment.  The historic environment (to give heritage it’s policy-world moniker) is under pressure, and is regularly flagged as being under-resourced and at risk, so the Heritage Index data is a useful tool in terms of reanalysing and reconceptualising the role of heritage assets within our living environment.  The work has thrown up some interesting initial findings – which at first may seem counter-intuitive, but perhaps when reflected upon, were staring us in the face.  Areas with high levels of heritage assets don’t always have high levels of engagement with those assets, and areas suffering from deprivation with low density of heritage assets to access may actually have higher levels of engagement.  There is of course variability across the country and the methodology can be pored over for what it does and doesn’t do – but nonetheless, it does show the potential for arguments of what heritage can potentially do within communities.

The Index also brings to the fore the use of proxy measures – useful at a time when in Scotland, discussion has come round again on whether the Scotland Performs framework indicator for heritage – the state of Category A Listed Buildings at Risk (equivalent to Grade I in England) – is suitable to act as a measure of the state of the historic environment.  Proxy measures are liked and disliked in equal measure, and care must be taken with them – but it does not mean that they cannot raise interesting analytical results and dialogue – as has happened with the Index.

The publication and commitment to continue to support the development and evolution of the Index is welcome, and I’ll take this opportunity to sound like a broken record (stuck in the same groove for over a decade, since I assisted with the creation of Heritage Counts as an evolution from the Heritage Monitor produced by the English Tourism Council (now VisitEngland)), flagging the need for a heritage observatory function to pull together the large amounts of data and grey literature which can add to the evidence base for the role of the historic environment in society.

A debate was held at the RSA last week, entitled ‘Why heritage is our future‘ to explore issues associated with the Index, and enable commentary on the links between communities and their historic environment.  What was noticeable throughout the debate, which was lively and interesting, was the lack of consideration of heritage organisations themselves (apart from the HLF which was represented at the debate by the Head of Research and Evaluation, Gareth Maeer).  This was surprising to me – having spent much of my professional life working with the inner machinery of conservation agencies, heritage NGOs and policy analysis. Perhaps these organisations aren’t as visible or at the front of the mind of people engaging with heritage as much as we think within community settings?  This is something I need to explore further.

Link to audio recording of the RSA debate on 8th October 2015.
https://www.thersa.org/link/bc55acf32c5e4c4191898263b18778fb.aspx
Storify feed of #heritageindex tweets

Canal and River Trust heritage report

CRT heritage report 15The CRT has recently published its latest heritage report. It provides an overview of the the state of conservation across the CRT’s canal network and associated land holdings, and illustrates current conservation and restoration projects.  The range of work continues to be impressive, with the report reminding us that the CRT is the 3rd largest owner of protected heritage assets in the country (behind the Church of England and the National Trust). Having moved from being a public corporation (British Waterways) three years ago to an independent charity as the CRT, illustration of its conservation progress is a vital part of not only the stewardship compact with Government, but also the marketing communications around heritage conservation by the organisation designed to garner support in wider society for the organisation and the canal side environment as a place to actively rather than passively engage with. The dual fundamental challenge for the organisation is the stewardship of a dynamic physical environment which has to be managed safely and sensitively (canal breaches can be devastating!) and the fact that the vast majority of its asset base is free to access, as the majority of canal users are on the towpath as opposed to licence-paying boaters.

Heritage incidents CRT2015Notable in the report is the chart illustrating damage to the asset base, listing graffiti and vandalism as the major ongoing problem. This suggests that within urban settings, there is still a lot of progress to be made to encourage wider societal appreciation of the waterways as a community place and recreational asset that needs to be actively looked after.