Researching Community Heritage at the University of Sheffield

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Archaeology

Abstract

The Researching Community Heritage project aims to develop fruitful and lasting collaborations between researchers in the University of Sheffield and communities researching their heritage. The project is in support of the Heritage Lottery Fund's All Our Stories grant scheme. The research team will work with ten projects, all based in Sheffield and the surrounding region. The researcher support broadly falls into three categories: (1) academic mentoring (through attendance at project meetings/events and providing ongoing advice by phone and email), (2) delivering formal workshops on specific skills or resources (e.g. collecting oral histories, archaeological field survey), and (3) student volunteers working with projects as part of organised placements.

A Researching Community Heritage project officer will coordinate researchers' contribution to events, training workshops, open days, student placements etc. that will taking place as part of the All Our Stories projects. She will maintain the RCH website and social media accounts, and liaise with the Faculty and University's media teams to publicise the projects. She will also organise two workshops and a public symposium, at which university and community researchers will present and reflect on their All Our Stories projects.

Planned Impact

not relevant

Publications

10 25 50
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Johnston R (2017) Action heritage: research, communities, social justice in International Journal of Heritage Studies

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Pillatt T (2019) A Break in the Clouds: Connecting Community Experiences in Mosser, Cumbria in Journal of Contemporary Archaeology

 
Title Break in the Clouds 
Description A Break in the Clouds is a collaborative film, produced by Gemma Thorpe and Toby Pillatt, reflecting on the practices and routines of people living in Mosser, Cumbria, and the impact of weather and landscape on their daily lives. Unique to this work are the 18th Century diaries of two residents of the area, Isaac Fletcher and Elihu Robinson, whose words act as a guide. The film also touches on current issues in the township of Mosser, which are reflective of the wider changes occuring in English upland landscapes. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact not available yet 
URL http://vimeo.com/71799347
 
Title Heeley History Workshop 
Description A film about a local history project researching the everyday lives of people in Heeley, Sheffield, in the twentieth century. The film particularly focuses on the Heeley History Workshop, which is a group of residents and others with personal connections to Heeley who study and write about the area's history. The group worked with Archaeology undergraduates to collect stories and memories about social life in Heeley as part of the Researching Community Heritage project 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact Not yet available 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Frwi-orjkEg
 
Title Roma Stories 
Description This project is a collaboration between Sheffield Babel Songs, filmmaker Gemma Thorpe, the AHRC funded project, Researching Community Heritage and a group of young people from Slovakia, now living in Page Hall in Sheffield, an area which has been the subject of national debates regarding community integration and tensions between residents. The film draws upon approaches used in Researching Community Heritage and ethno-musicological methods of collecting music and lyrics in Transmitting Musical Heritage. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact not available yet 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tY4VuERQZI
 
Title We Live Here 
Description A film coproduced with young people from Roundabout hostel for homeless young people in Sheffield. The film explores the young people's research into the history of the Georgian building occupied by their hostel. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact Faiza, who appears in the film and who we got back to be the narrator, has since gone on to volunteer for Silent Cities, making a film of her own. http://www.silentcities.org.uk/projects/community-journalist-programme/ 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxxYQomTgyI
 
Description The experiences of the project team whilst working on RCH have stimulated debate, discussion and new avenues for academic research in the field of community heritage. The team are actively pursuing research into three major themes that have emerged from the project: the relationship between heritage and creative practice; a critical analysis of community heritage, reflecting on RCH as a case study; and 'action heritage', the pursuit of social justice through heritage.
Research Themes
Through the first theme of heritage and creative practice, we are exploring the role of film, photography and performance as interventions within heritage research, rather than merely representations of that research. We are especially considering their role in co-produced heritage research and we are drawing upon the creative practices that have been used within the 'All Our Stories' projects, as well as work undertaken separately by the project team, such as Dr Crewe's involvement in projects that use theatre to shape and disseminate historical and archaeological research, and Dr Marwood's expertise in creative practice.
The second research theme concerns the critical analysis of community heritage, as part of which members of the team are reflecting upon the methods, successes and challenges of RCH, and contextualising it within broader discourses surrounding public and community heritage. We are exploring how community heritage might develop in more nuanced ways in the future. We are particularly concerned with moving away from more traditional approaches to community heritage, in which academic 'experts' often impose their knowledge and ideas onto communities, by embracing the concepts of co-production and knowledge exchange between partners.
The third theme of 'Action Heritage' has recently developed from the project. The RCH team has noted that heritage research, as a practice, forms and transforms people and communities; the act of researching heritage shapes how we, as university and community participants, understand ourselves. Dr Johnston and Dr Marwood are investigating this idea, focusing upon the transformative nature of the processes and outputs of researching, and their social and cultural impact. They have proposed that the research process can be a means of enfranchisement, revealing and contesting inequalities, and an act of demonstration. The term 'Action Heritage' has been devised to refer to this method of heritage research, which privileges process over outcome.
Exploitation Route The RCH project team have firmly established the University as a hub for community heritage research, providing space and resources for academics, community partners and students to communicate, share skills and ideas, and co-produce research which is of direct relevance to members of the public from the city and the broader region. It is important that we build on the project's successes and continue its momentum when the current funding finishes. We are therefore proposing the continuation of the project and its formalisation from a 'hub' to a centre for teaching and research - a Centre for Researching Community Heritage.
There is much that is distinctive about the RCH project and its approach to community heritage; the Centre would build upon the team's expertise and allow it flourish further. In particular, the establishment of the Centre would allow the University to maintain the strong partnerships we have seeded with our community colleagues. A noteworthy achievement of the project has been its role in breaking down barriers between 'the city' and 'the University'; members of the public who once found the University unapproachable or intimidating have been drawn into its sphere of influence through the welcoming and enthusiastic standpoint of the RCH team, who have worked rigorously to keep these newly-opened channels of communication in place. Through word of mouth, these community partners are now passing on their positive experiences to other groups and individuals who have never previously worked with academics, and thus a network of community collaborators is being created whose members no longer view the University as 'not for them'.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://communityheritage.group.shef.ac.uk/
 
Description The results of the research have been used in a wide variety of ways by the many local community groups we worked with during the project.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal