Cultural Heritage Asia Pacific

Cultural Heritage Asia and Pacific at Deakin specializes in the fields of museum and heritage studies with a special focus on the Asia Pacific region. The group has built up an impressive track record of collaboration with industry bodies and organisations across the museum and heritage sector, both in Australia and in the Asian region. Our work seeks to:

  • Establish a conversation between scholarship on museums and heritage as a phenomena worthy of study with the concerns and issues emerging from the world of museum and heritage practices themselves.
  • Engage in applied research through partnerships with industry collaborators.
  • Work with an understanding of cultural heritage that incorporates a variety of expressions ranging from the built environment to the material world of objects, cultural landscapes and intangible heritage; a spectrum of organisations from museums to heritage places, governmental and international agencies as well as NGO’s; and with issues concerning the practices of collecting, interpretation, conservation and management.
  • Cover a range of geographical areas, with a special interest in cultural heritage issues emerging from Australia and the greater Asian and Pacific regions. Of special interest are issues concerning the encounter between modernity and traditional societies, the impact of colonization and decolonization on the development of heritage consciousness and practice, the clash between different knowledge regimes and the interpretation of heritage places and objects and the growing understanding that heritage involves emotional responses to places, people and objects.

Our work is framed by the notion that heritage practices stage a series of encounters that help to shape our understandings of ourselves and others and, in so doing, frame relations between us. Central to our understanding of heritage is the idea that heritage, in making use of the past in the present, is central to how we shape the future.

Our research themes:

Heritage in Times of Rapid Transformation

Across the world, heritage plays a significant economic, social and political role in nation, city and community construction and transformation. This theme considers the various economic, social and political roles that heritage plays in times of rapid transformation. It seeks to identify the ways in which heritage is a resource for communities undergoing extensive forms of transformation such as modernisation, the rise of democracy in formerly authoritarian societies, post-war reconstruction, the development of multicultural societies under the impact of globalisation and consequent mass migration, urban development pressures and changing economic structures.

Dealing with Difficult Pasts

A significant consequence of the rise of a politics of identity is the way in which the past plays an important part in people's everyday lives. Whether in the shape of a memory boom, Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, claims to heritage based on human rights discourses like those around cultural repatriation or the safeguarding of intangible heritage practices, the past increasingly plays a role in the present. Our focus in this theme is to understand the role that the increasing association of heritage with identity and with memory has played in these phenomena. We do so by analysing the various ways in which museums, heritage places, landscapes and intangible heritage practices are sites of contestation, negotiation and remembrance for nations as well as for specific community groups and individuals, and, in so doing, produce emotional landscapes that help to shape relations between people.

Staging cross-cultural encounters

In this theme we are concerned with understanding the multiple ways in which heritage practices stage and embody cross-cultural encounters. Our focus is on the imbrication of museums and heritage places with the histories of colonial encounters, mass migrations and the emergence of culturally diverse societies. Here we are interested in asking how these processes have shaped collecting practices in settler societies and in former colonies of European Empires in the Asia/Pacific region; what role exhibition and interpretation practices play in staging cross-cultural encounters and in how this role is made manifest though specific kinds of curatorial strategies.

Study with us!

Whether you want to work with objects and collections, manage a museum or heritage place, or protect and interpret significant sites, landscapes or intangible cultural heritage, a postgraduate qualification in cultural heritage and museum studies provides a pathway into employment in the diverse and exciting heritage sector. Find out more

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