skip to content

Cambridge Heritage Research Centre


Annual Lecture Label

The Annual Heritage Lecture invites speakers of international reputation to give a public lecture on an aspect of heritage research.


4th Annual Heritage Lecture

The CHRC was honoured to host (virtually at least) Prof. Laurajane Smith (Australian National University), one of the most distinguished and influential scholars in the field of Heritage Studies to give the 4th Annual Heritage Lecture. The lecture, The Emotional Politics of Heritage, was the first of the Annual Heritage Lectures to be given online. 


A recording of the whole lecture is available to view online here.



The Emotional Politics of Heritage

 Poster Laurajane Smith


This talk, drawing Professor Smith’s new book 'Emotional Heritage', will theorise both the affective qualities of heritage and the processes through which heritage becomes a resource of political power. Heritage is both an emotional and political resource that is readily and visibly mobilised in right-wing populist movements. However, the lecture will also identify the less obvious and quieter ways heritage works to emotionally legitimise and maintain the status quo while also identifying the emotional registers that underline how heritage is used to affirm progressive social and political aspirations. The talk will be illustrated with cases from the USA and Australia. 


Laurajane Smith Laurajane Smith is the Head of the Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies at the Australian National University and the editor of the International Journal of Heritage Studies. In a distinguished career Laurajane Smith has produced some of the defining research and publications in the field of Heritage Studies, including Uses of Heritage (2006), Heritage, Communities and Archaeology (2009 with Emma Waterton), and Emotional Heritage: Visitor Engagement at Museums and Heritage Sites (2020). Her work challenges the idea of heritage as primarily or simply an ‘object’ or ‘site’, and retheorises heritage as a cultural process of meaning and memory making. 





3rd Annual Heritage Lecture

The CHRC was delighted to be welcome to Cambridge Prof. Ciraj Rassool (University of the Western Cape) in 2020 to present the 3rd Annual Heritage Lecture on Restitution and the ‘missing body’: South Africa and Austria in question. The Annual Lecture took place on 26 February 2020 in the McGrath Centre, St Catharine's College, Cambridge.


Restitution and the ‘missing body’: South Africa and Austria in question 

3rd Annual Heritage Lecture


For the 3rd Annual Heritage Lecture hosted by the Cambridge Heritage Research Centre, Professor Ciraj Rassool will discuss the history of collecting by the Austrian anthropologist Rudolf Pöch in southern Africa in the first decade of the 20th century that led to the restitution of the remains of Klaas and Trooi Pienaar in 2012. It examines the specific characteristics of this restitution process, such as how it was framed as a project of rehumanisation, how the process got stalled amidst failing diplomacy between Austria and South Africa, and also what the potential is for its resuscitation.

Finally the talk is interested to discuss the meaning of restitution for museums, for questions of memory and memorial in South Africa, especially when it is located within the framework of forensic history and its developing concern with 'missingness' and missing bodies as ways of rethinking South Africa and its contested heritage.


Prof. Ciraj Rassool

Ciraj Rassool is Professor of History at the University of the Western Cape and has directed UWC's African Programme in Museum and Heritage Studies. He was on the boards of the District Six Museum and Iziko Museums of South Africa. He has previously chaired the Scientific Committee of the International Council of African Museums (AFRICOM), and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the study of the Physical Anthropology Collection ‘Felix von Luschan’ at the Museum of Ethnology at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Germany.




2nd Annual Heritage Lecture

The second Annual Heritage Lecture was given by Prof Mark Turin (University of British Columbia) on 7 May 2019 in the Frankopan Hall, Jesus College, Cambridge.  


Language as Heritage: Indigenous Language Resurgence in the 21st Century


 2019 Annual Lecture Poster


The linguistic diversity of our species is under extreme stress, as are the communities who speak these increasingly endangered languages. While some Indigenous mother tongues and narrative traditions have been in inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding and on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, many more have received no official recognition and continue to be oppressed by colonial-era legislation in the nation-states in which they are spoken.

In 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages to help promote and protect indigenous languages. This celebration of Indigenous linguistic vitality and resilience is welcome, but is it enough? Does official recognition ‘work’, and if so, how? Does ‘heritaging’ language help communities to reclaim their narrative and speech traditions? And do the goals of historically marginalized communities who speak under-resourced languages align with those of immigrants who advocate for resources to have their ‘heritage’ languages taught in schools and spoken in their homes.

Engaging with critical heritage studies and an emerging body of decolonial theory on language, this richly illustrated lecture draws on contemporary and historical examples from North America and Asia to ask whether we need a new language for talking about linguistic heritage and heritage languages.



Mark Turin

Mark Turin is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and First Nations Languages at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Trained in anthropology and linguistics, he has worked in collaborative partnership with Indigenous peoples in the Himalayas for over 20 years and more recently with First Nations communities in the Pacific Northwest. He is a committed advocate for the enduring role of Indigenous languages, online, in print and on air.




1st Annual Heritage Lecture

The inaugural lecture was given by Dr Helaine Silverman (CHAMP/University of Illinois) on 8 May 2018 and the full lecture is available to view below.


The Inca in the Plaza: Contesting Change in the World Heritage Historic Center of Cuzco, Peru


Inca header

Historic urban centers constitute approximately one-third of the cultural properties on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The expectation of UNESCO is that the architectural integrity, authenticity and physical form of an inscribed historic urban center will not change for these qualities convey the site’s Outstanding Universal Value. Yet these are inhabited places and thus subject to change.

Whereas this is recognized by ICOMOS’ new “tolerance for change” paradigm, change in heritage properties is not everywhere embraced by the official management sector. A case in point is Cuzco, Peru where the recent installation of an Inca king atop a Belle Époque fountain in the middle of the premier public space of the city has prompted a major dispute between the Municipality (which erected the statue) and the Ministry of Culture (which seeks its removal).

Beyond local political antagonisms and ambiguity in the national legal code for heritage management are intertwined issues of place, authenticity, identity, memory, visual integrity, community stakeholdership, colonial legacies and different value systems. This talk uses the controversy over “the Inca in the plaza” as a platform to discuss management of the present past in living historic urban landscapes. 

Watch the whole lecture here