Navigating Loss: Interactive Documentary as a Tool for Understanding and Communicating Heritage Loss on the Coast

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Geography


Accelerated erosion, rising sea levels and changes in weather patterns present a challenge for coastal archaeology; in coming decades some heritage assets will be lost, or radically transformed. Historic England identifies a need to 'develop an approach for dealing with inevitable change, including loss' . In academic contexts, a growing body of work focuses on developing heritage management strategies that look 'beyond saving' to engage with the productive potential of change and transformation .
The studentship project will focus on three core areas of enquiry: how frameworks of risk and vulnerability are applied to coastal archaeological sites in South West England; management challenges arising from the identification of risk; and, opportunities for community engagement with the generation of adaptive management practices. By engaging with local communities and heritage managers, the research will contribute to national debates and policy development on challenges and opportunities presented by inevitable loss of heritage assets.

Key research questions addressed by the project:
How are concepts of risk and vulnerability, and notions of loss and endangerment, framed (by heritage organisations and communities) in relation to heritage assets affected by coastal change?
Can innovative, integrated approaches to monitoring and making sense of risk contribute to the development of new frameworks for the management of heritage in dynamic coastal contexts?
What changes to current policy are needed to facilitate adoption of approaches that frame risk as an opportunity for engagement, and acknowledge the productive and transformative aspects of loss?
In practice what might a more creative, inclusive response to coastal erosion and archaeological loss look like? To what extent could such approaches work within the Heritage At Risk programme?


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