Heritage Legacies

Lead Research Organisation: University of Aberdeen
Department Name: School of Social Science

Abstract

Research on heritage within Connected Communities embodies many of the objectives of the programme as a whole. By investigating the lives of past communities through research with contemporary communities, new models of research practice, ethics and outcomes are reshaping the very concepts of community and heritage. Connections are being made across many dimensions of heritage and the heritage sector: between past, present and future, between communities, universities and heritage organisations, and between research, public engagement and performance. Our proposal is to learn not just about the individual successes and failures of such research in a narrow evaluative mode, but to explore the dynamics of the relationships and the legacies that are being and could yet be formed. The opportunity we have is to describe and promote these legacies in such a way that helps shape the future of community and co-produced heritage research.
Hertiage Legacies will proceed through collaborations amongst projects and heritage organisations, and through community and university co-evaluation of Connected Communities heritage legacies. Heritage, as a process of relations between past and present, has in Connected Communities taken diverse forms, and our project will convene two networks to explore them. The first will be a small but diverse set of Connected Communities heritage projects that will be the focus of intensive co-evaluation at the Universities of Aberdeen, Cardiff and Sheffield, together with co-design research based at the University of Leeds. The second network will be a broader set of projects drawn mainly from the Connected Communities 'Research for Community Heritage' programme together with partner organisations including the Heritage Lottery Fund and National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement. These will be brought together to help set the agenda for our legacy research and contribute to its outcomes.

Planned Impact

The key audiences for the research will be community heritage groups/projects, academics, museum and heritage organization and professional networks and key funders and coordinators (AHRC, HLF, NCCPE). A key principle of our research design has been to involve key users groups in our research from the pre-bid stage so that our pathways to impact beyond the life of the research project are in place from its inception.

Heritage Legacies has two key methods of impact, underpinned by a central principle of action research - to integrate impact pathways into the core research process:

(1) impact will be delivered through the research process by involving key users of the research in the critical and reflective stages of the project in ways which will strengthen and focus our insights.

Community heritage groups and key funders and programme coordinators the HLF and NCCPE have been involved in shaping the bid. At Stage 2 of our research design we will have an agenda setting workshop to which all Research for Community Heritage projects will be invited. At Stage 3 (through field work in Cardiff; Sheffield and Aberdeen) and Stage 4 (through the 'micro-legacy' projects) the research will actively engage with a wide range of Research for Community Heritage and Connected Communities projects. The aim of this is to iteratively ground and strengthen the resonance of our insights in multiple contexts and for a range of potential research users.

(2) both during and beyond the life of the project, we will reach a wider audience using a blog, podcasts and social media, promoting the findings through existing professional networks, and producing publications and online resources.

A similar philosophy will underpin pathways to a widening range of users. We will use the twelve months of the research project to deliberately cultivate a range of users for our research through the project by making use of a blog site, of twitter, our local and national networks (via HLF and NCCPE) and discussion lists for a range of community and professional networks (such as British Council of Archaeology, Group for Education in Museums, Social History Curators Group). These feedback loops involving wider audiences are built into our research design and will actively shape our project outputs. Our project outputs will be:

- An edited volume on heritage legacies with a leading academic press, based on our workshops and fieldwork.
- A report to be made freely available at the end of the project for all stakeholders and interest groups. To make the report engaging and easy to read it will draw on a range of techniques for communicating our ideas from telling stories about each project, good use of photographs and visuals and summing up key findings and ideas in short text boxes.
- An online resource detailing the progress of our work, archiving project reports and facilitating ongoing discussions of heritage legacies.
We will gather final feedback - with a focus on whether the research insights were usable - through qualitative feedback solicited via an online survey.
 
Description Key findings

- The practice of research itself needs to be recognised as a powerful tool for community empowerment in heritage. While the 'authorised' heritage of mainstream heritage organisations is still a significant presence, developing skills of heritage research can enable a community to play a greater role in telling its own histories. Heritage becomes a form of active engagement rather than passive consumption.
- Ideas of 'heritage' are diverse and yet continue to be a real motivating force for community identity in the UK. Of crucial concern here is how spatial notions of scale and location - often using heritage to construct the significance of local place as a counterpoint to regional and national histories - intersect with the past, present and future. Through heritage research, links between places and times can be maintained or created anew.
- Many projects achieved results that could not have been achieved by one partner alone. Communities and universities each brought skills and expertise. One implication of this is that the roles of a university in society become open to question.
No longer the main or sole source of expertise and authority, universities in the heritage research we found were instead resources that communities could draw on, both materially and in terms of skills. Communities in heritage research, meanwhile, were often characterised by reaching outwards rather than creating boundaries around themselves.

Reflecting on the 'All our Stories' programme:
The Heritage Lottery Fund launched the All Our Stories programme in 2012 with the aim of enabling communities to explore and share their own heritage; it was inspired by the BBC television series 'The Story of Britain' presented by historian Michael Wood. HLF and AHRC formed a strategic partnership in which AHRC funded university researchers to support HLF's grantees in their community-led research.

Although it is beyond the scope of our work to provide a further overall evaluation of All Our Stories together with the AHRC's Research for Community Heritage, the projects and communities we came across were overwhelmingly positive about joining together for collaborative or co-produced heritage research. Almost all were proud of their achievements and most were keen to continue either specifically working together or to find ways of continuing their heritage research. Through learning about the details of projects' research, the Heritage Legacies team has been enormously impressed with both the quality of the research itself and the enthusiasm with which it has been carried out. Many examples from All Our Stories are drawn on in our work.
Exploitation Route Our insights into the legacies of collaborative, co-produced and community-led heritage research will be of interest to academics, professional practitioners in the heritage sector and communities. In our report, we argue for greater recognition of the value of this kind of research, and we suggest measures to better support its legacies. Futher publications that are underway will present key case studies and analytical insight from this work.
Sectors Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL https://heritagelegacies.wordpress.com/
 
Description Our findings helped a wide range of community groups reflect on their work, gain new insight into processes of community heritage research, and build new collaborations and strategies for the future. Our key case study groups are described in our book 'Heritage as Community Research' published by Policy Press. Our work strengthened the ability of these groups to research community heritage and in turn have impact on the communities around them.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description AHRC Connected Communities Follow on Funding for Impact and Engagment, Creating Livign Knowledge Stream
Amount £80,559 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/P009654/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2017 
End 01/2018
 
Description Leverhulme Artist in Residence
Amount £15,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 2015-AIR-098 
Organisation The Leverhulme Trust 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2016 
End 04/2017
 
Description Concluding Project workshop, Learning through Community and local Histories, Aberdeen for particpating All our Stories Projects and other associated communication history projects and University of Aberdeen project team. Organised by Elizabeth Curtis. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact This was a reflective and evaluative workshop and participants came from All our Stories projects, the phase 1 Project and the University to share and discuss what people had learned through the process of engagement in community heritage projects. All participants including the University team presented to the group 3 things which they had learned and the results of these short presentations were used as round panel discussion in the afternoon session. Kate Coutts from Nesting Primary provided a keynote talk.

The findings from the round table discussion now form the basis for research which is currently been undertaken as part of Jo Vergunst's Heritage Legacies Project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Heritage Inquiry - AHRC Connected Communities Festival event (Cardiff) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Our 'public inquiry' into how co-produced heritage research happens stimulated much discussion and interest amongst Festival-goers.

No impacts amongst participants in the event have been tracked by us, but the views expressed have fed in to our research and will be disseminated through it.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Presentation and discussion of project results at Scotland's Community Heritage Conference (Pitlochry) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Members of professional and community heritage organisations were presented with the results of the Heritage Legacies project, including discussions of the dynamics of community heritage research in Scotland. Many audience members talked about the results with the Heritage Legacies team following the presentation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Presentation and discussion of project results at international Community Archaeology seminar, University of Aberdeen. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Participants in community archaeology projects from Scotland, USA and Japan, together with others involved in heritage professionally and through communities in Scotland, were presented with the results of the Heritage Legacies conference at a one-day seminar at the University of Aberdeen. The talk generated much interest and discussion amongst the audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Public talk (Alford Heritage Society) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Members of Alford Heritage Society attended a public talk about the Bennachie Landscapes Project that included the results of the Heritage Legacies project. There was much interest in and discussion of the results amongst the audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Workshop with community partners (Aberdeen) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact We ran an event in Aberdeen for community heritage participants from Aberdeenshire, Sheffield and Cardiff. As well as enabling the groups to meet each other, much useful reflection and discussion took place about the processes of this kind of research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Workshop with community partners (Leeds) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The workshop enabled community-based and academic participants to share perspectives and information about heritage research, and to think about ideas for future work together.

Many participants have remained engaged with our AHRC Heritage Legacies project and have been able to more clearly identify their own project legacies, which is a key goal for our work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Workshop with community partners (Sheffield) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact As part of the 2015 Connected Community Heritage Network conference, we ran a workshop on the unexpected outcomes of community heritage research. This sparked questions and discussion amongst the audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015