I am an interdisciplinary researcher, writer and teacher specialising in heritage, museums and artistic research. Prior to joining the University of Amsterdam as Assistant Professor of Memory and Museums I was a post-doctoral researcher and UKRI Early Career Leadership Fellow at University College London. I received my MA and PhD from UCL Institute of Archaeology, and my BA from The University of Manchester. I took up my current position in the Department of Arts and Culture in January 2021.
Since completing my PhD on heritage and photography in 2015 I have developed a series of individual and collaborative projects along two intersecting research lines. The first of these considers what I call critical-creative heritage practice - a model for enacting critical thinking across diverse fields of heritage praxis, from curatorial interventions to large-scale conservation projects. This work engages with a broad range of creative approaches and outputs, including film, photography, curating, contemporary art, experience design and literature, which I explore in relation to fundamental heritage concepts such as stewardship, preservation, inheritance and the archive. In 2019 I was awarded funding by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council to develop a collaborative research and engagement project in this area called New Trajectories in Curatorial Experience Design. Working closely with immersive design specialists ANAGRAM, this project was recently (2022) awarded further funding to build a new augmented reality experience exploring issues of disobedience, protest and the legacies of colonialism in contemporary Britain.
The second research trajectory I have been developing over the past few years is broadly concerned with the intersections of heritage, museums and ecology. This research aims to bridge work in critical heritage studies, museology and the environmental humanities, with a core focus on urgent issues related to sustainability, climate change and the just transition. Key examples of my work in this area include the edited book Deterritorializing the Future: Heritage in, of and after the Anthropocene (Open Humanities Press, 2020), contributions to the Korea-Netherlands curatorial platform Drifting Curriculum, and the international design competition Reimagining Museums for Climate Action, which I co-led from 2020-2021. This final project culminated in an exhibition at Glasgow Science Centre as part of COP-26, with radical new museological proposals on display from Singapore, Indonesia, the United States, Brazil and the UK . In 2023 I was awarded NWO pilot funding for a new project in this area called Cultivating Museum Ecologies Otherwise, which aims to reconcile pioneering work in the environmental humanities with grounded museum praxis.
What unites these two strands is a commitment to unravelling fundamental assumptions about heritage and museums to bring about meaningful change within and beyond these fields. This work typically unfolds through participatory action research with curators, designers, artists, conservators and other 'practitioners'. Whether this involves thinking through the practical implications of posthumanism for conservation or working with storytellers to mobilise ideas of the spectral within heritage interpretation, my work aims to combine conceptual insights and historical analyses with new modes of doing heritage. I see these collaborations as vital not just in terms of enhancing the societal impact of research, but as a reminder of the experimental potential of heritage and museums praxis. I am currently developing a new line of research that brings together many of these themes and questions around ideas of repair and the reparative.
My work has been published in Future Anterior, Heritage & Society, Public Archaeology, the International Journal of Heritage Studies and many other venues. I am regularly invited to contribute academic and more creative essays to edited collections, artists books and catalogues, and have given keynotes and public talks nationally and internationally. I am currently co-editor of the international peer-reviewed journal Museums & Social Issues.
A full overview of ongoing research and engagement activities can be found on my personal website.
Within UvA I lead Masters level courses in Heritage & Memory Studies, Museum Studies, and Art & Performance Research Studies. My approach to pedagogy directly emerges from my research interests and combines a deep commitment to theorisation with collaborative work and critical-creative practice. I have developed electives on Contemporary Art and the Anthropocene and critical approaches to sustainability within the cultural sector, and coordinated the year-long ART and RESEARCH course - a joint initiative from UvA and the Rietveld Academie.
In May 2022 - at the end of my first full academic year of teaching - I was named Lecturer of the Year for the Faculty of Humanities as part of a university wide competition organised by students.
In March 2023 I took on a new role as Programme Coordinator of the Bachelors Global Arts, Culture and Politics, which aims to demonstrate the value of the arts and humanities in addressing many of the most urgent challenges facing the world today. This programme brings together several of the themes that have animated my work to date, with four majors focused on Culture & Social Justice, Art & Media, the Human & AI, and Reimagining Sustainability.
My research and teaching build on wide-ranging experience in the cultural sector. Alongside my academic career I have worked as a heritage consultant internationally, specialising in curatorial planning and interpretation. From 2016-2017 I was Project Curator at the Royal Institute of British Architects. I continue to pursue creative modes of collaboration between the cultural sector and the academy in all of my research and pedagogy.