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Last modified: 31 Jul 2023 11:19

Course Overview

This course examines “who” is represented in current frameworks for cultural heritage management, and explores possibilities and problems linked to community engagement. You will learn about approaches and ethics when working with groups that have a stake in archaeological sites and narratives, from indigenous peoples to experts and politicians. Through a joint field project, you will gain direct experience in identifying and engaging Aberdeenshire communities in heritage interpretation.

Course Details

Study Type Postgraduate Level 5
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Elisabeth Niklasson

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Course Description

This course is designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills to work critically with community engagement across the cultural heritage field – in a commercial, governmental or academic capacity. Over the last centuries, the decisions about what should be protected as part of our common past have largely been in the hands of kings, governments and specialists. By cherishing the relics of some eras over others and raising monuments of some people over others, they have shaped cultural heritage to reflect the social, political and scientific perceptions of their times. As a result, a multitude of people do not see their own past reflected in the official cultural heritage. The sector is increasingly working to remedy this, by including interest groups, local communities and indigenous populations in processes of heritage selection and stewardship. Far from easy, such efforts have often fallen flat or been lined with controversies, fueled by national identity politics and persistent assumptions about the public in archaeology.

The course provides a rich understanding of issues related to community engagement and control of narrative in heritage management. You will become familiar with emerging policy trends, such as participatory governance of cultural heritage, and their implementation. Through global case studies, you will learn to evaluate the effects of engagement strategies on diverse publics and grasp the ethics of working with indigenous and grassroot groups, as well as experts and politicians. This knowledge will be put to use in the planning and implementation of a joint project focused on a local heritage site. You will perform interdisciplinary fieldwork involving a collaborative site study, interviews and observation. Through the project you will learn how to identify various stakeholders, to record and analyse their perceptions, and to strategize ways to engage them in heritage interpretation. Examination consists of reflective texts, a joint project report with individual contributions, and a final public workshop with community participants.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

(i) Participation (20%)

(ii) Oral Presentation group (10%)

(iii) Project Report group (30%)

(iv) Research Essay (40%)

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
FactualRememberBe familiar with current policies on community representation and participation in cultural heritage, and be able to appraise their influence on archaeological heritage management
ConceptualUnderstandUnderstand the issues and ethics involved when working with diverse communities, and recognize power imbalances between stakeholders
ProceduralUnderstandHave a working knowledge of how to structure, plan and implement a community heritage project
ProceduralApplyApply interdisciplinary strategies to identify and engage stakeholders in heritage interpretation
ProceduralAnalyseExecute basic methodologies from the field of heritage studies to record and analyse public perceptions of heritage
ReflectionCreateProduce a collaborative text that demonstrates a critical engagement with issues of participation and representation in cultural heritage management

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