ACHS 2020 FUTURES - Association of Critical Heritage Studies 5th Biennial Conference

  • Harriet Parry (Presenter)

Activity: External talk or presentationOral presentation


Places of possibility: Applying sensory methods to inspire inclusive, future-oriented development and design of heritage.

How do heritage visitors and the social networks that function in and around heritage sites feel about being there? How do we find out? And why is this important for the future of heritage studies?

This paper introduces an interdisciplinary Ph.D. research project embedded in the study of material culture, that uses the principles of scenographic theatre design, non-representational theory (Thrift, Ingold, McCormack), and co-productive ethnographic fieldwork practices to investigate how individuals respond to heritage sites on a sensory level.

The purpose is not to exclude the cultural and social, but to adopt a holistic embodied perspective on what heritage sites mean to those that encounter them, and in-so-doing include the neurodiverse ways of experiencing a place that has not traditionally been considered. By attending to how participants respond both physically and verbally to heritage sites, the research explores how we process and articulate the unconscious entanglement with place (Ingold, 2010). A scenographer first reads and records the geometry and identity of a found space or purpose-built arena to understand its affective qualities to stimulate connection between performance, performers and the audience through their design. Similarly, the interplay between a heritage site’s identity and locale, its residents or visitors and stakeholders, and its atmosphere, has a sensory affect that influences the nature of their connection to, or rejection of that site. Thinking in these terms combines creativity with inclusivity when considering how heritage might be regarded, sustained, managed, developed and made relevant for future generations.


Ingold, Tim. ‘Bringing Things to Life: Creative Entanglements in a World of

Materials’, 2010, 16.

McCormack, Derek P. Refrains for Moving Bodies: Experience and Experiment in

Affective Spaces. Durham: Duke University Press, 2013.

Thrift, N. J. Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect. International

Library of Sociology. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon ; New York: Routledge, 2008.
Period26 Aug 202030 Aug 2020
Degree of RecognitionInternational