Innovative researcher, pushing our understanding of heritage practices
My work aims to analyse, deconstruct, and reconceptualise key concepts, including ‘world heritage’ and ‘intangible heritage’, as well as the connections between heritage and (sustainable) development. I am also interested in assessing how heritage and museums can address some of the most pressing global challenges, including social justice, gender equality, and sustainable development. My research is often informed by my professional experience with international organisations and governments.
My project on ‘Rethinking Heritage for Development: International Framework, Local Impacts’ funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) and the Caligara Foundation (Italy) aims to analyse whether and how heritage contributes to sustainable development. It is based on in-depth historical analyses of international approaches on culture (including heritage) for development, from 1970 to the present. However, the historical and international framework on culture (including heritage) for development provides only one side of the story. For this reason, I also assess how narratives on culture for development framed in an international (mainly Northern) arena have been implemented, adopted, adapted, transformed, and resisted on the ground. I identify the negative and positive impacts of all the international projects implemented by UNESCO in collaboration with other UN organisations (under the One UN system) in sub-Saharan Africa that aimed to provide evidence for the contribution of culture (understood primarily as heritage) to poverty reduction, gender equality, and environmental sustainability in time for the negotiation of the SDGs. Finally, I propose and discuss key recommendations for rethinking heritage for development, while reflecting on the major shortcomings of the selected projects.