Accessibility statement

(Leif) Harald Fredheim


Research Project

Sustaining public agency in caring for heritage: critical perspectives on participation through co-design

Supervisors: John SchofieldGill Chitty and Mike Heyworth

This thesis explores how heritage organisations in the UK are attempting to build capacity and sustainability in community groups involved in caring for heritage places during austerity. It is based on a broad interdisciplinary reading of critical perspectives on public participation. From this vantage point, I argue that the forms of participation facilitated by participatory initiatives in the sector are constrained by perceptions of public deficits and legitimate heritage expertise, which in turn are bound up in established definitions of heritage and its cultural significance. As a result, participatory initiatives reproduce the characteristics of network governance and incumbent democratisation, whereby community groups who share professional values are asked to augment professional capacity, as opposed to more critical forms of democratisation that foreground public agency. By critically engaging with my three case studies, Archaeology Scotland’s Adopt-a-Monument scheme, Bristol City Council’s Know Your Place interface and associated projects and my own co-design project with three community groups in Yorkshire, I demonstrate how public agency is limited in practice in each case, despite individuals’ critical intentions. In response, I argue that increasing and sustaining public agency in caring for heritage requires carefully designing participatory projects in ways that foreground participants’ skills and interests. My analysis demonstrates that in order to realise such interventions, they must be based in reconceptualised definitions of heritage and more nuanced understandings of participation deficits and legitimate heritage expertise. In doing so, my thesis contributes to the growing body of scholarship that argues increasing public participation is not a critical intervention in and of itself, but a means by which control can be both retained and relinquished. 




I am a trained objects conservator and archaeologist. I have recently submitted my PhD in the Department of Archaeology and worked as a Research Associate in the Department of Sociology at the University of York as part of the Heritage Futures research programme. My PhD research explores how heritage organisations in the UK are attempting to increase and sustain the capacity and sustainability of community groups involved in caring for heritage places during austerity. My work with Heritage Futures was on the Profusion theme, which investigated how people make decisions about which everyday objects to keep for the future, in homes and in museums. I also coordiante the Association of Critical Heritage Studies Early Career Researchers Network.



Fredheim, L. H., 2018. Endangerment-driven Heritage Volunteering: Democratisation or “ChangelessChange”International Journal of Heritage Studies 24 (5), 619-633.

Fredheim, L. H., 2018. Expertsand Stakeholders. In S. L. López Varela (ed.), The SAS Encyclopedia of Archaeological Sciences. Hoboken: Wiley.

Fredheim, L. H., 2018. Why do you work with volunteers? Context:Institute of Historic Buildings Conservation 155, 25-27.

Fredheim, H., Macdonald, S. and Morgan, J., 2018. Profusion inmuseums: A report on contemporary collecting and disposal. York: Heritage Futures. Available at:

Fredheim, L. H. and Khalaf, M., 2016. The Significance of Values: Heritage Value TypologiesRe-examinedInternational Journal of Heritage Studies 22 (6), 466-481.

Cutajar, J. D., Duckor, A., Sully, D. and Fredheim, L. H., 2016. A Significant Statement: NewOutlooks on Treatment DocumentationJournal of the Institute of Conservation 49 (2), 81-97.

Fredheim, L. H., 2016. Sustaining Places in Action: Facilitating Community Involvement in Heritage Stewardship by Co-Creation. In T. Collins, G. Kindermann, C. Newman and N. Cronin (eds.) Landscape Values: Place and Praxis. Galway: Centre for Landscape Studies, NUI Galway, 115-121.


Conference Presentations

Too much archaeology? European Association of Archaeologists 2019: Beyond Paradigms, Bern, Switzerland, 4th – 7th September 2019.

Values, emotions and cupboards of doom: curating profusion in homes and museums. SHCG Coference 2019. The Future of Social History: Who are we Curating for?, Edinburgh, UK, 18th – 19th July 2019 (with Sharon Macdonald and Jennie Morgan).

Non-participation Research for Equitable Heritage Futures. CHAT ACT: Agency, Action and Advocacy, Aarhus, Denmark, 26th – 28th October 2018.

Engineering Critical Public Participation in Caring for Heritage. Association of Critical Heritage Studies Fourth Biennial Conference, Hangzhou, China, 1st – 6th September 2018.

#Heritagegonewild: Digital Heritage Field-schools as Seedbeds for Transformative Heritage Research. Researching Digital Cultural Heritage, Manchester, UK, 30th November – 1st December 2017 (with Sara Perry, Meghan Dennis & Tara Copplestone).

Reviewing Heritage “Expertise” – Renegotiating Responsibilities. World Archaeological Congress 8, Kyoto, Japan, 28th August – 2nd September 2016.

Sustaining Stewardship Communities by Digital Co-Creation. World Archaeological Congress 8, Kyoto, Japan, 28th August – 2nd September 2016.

Critique Is Great, but it Is Time to Speak Plainly: Decoding and Reterritorializing the ‘Heritage’ Assemblage by Emphasising the Endogenous. ACHS UK Chapter Symposium, Penryn, UK, 11th July 2016.

Sustaining Places in Action: Facilitating Community Involvement in Heritage Stewardship by Co-Creation. Landscape Values: Place and Praxis. Galway, Ireland, 29th June – 2nd July 2016.

Sustaining Community-led Heritage Stewardship: Co-creating a Community-sourcing Platform for Heritage Management. Association of Critical Heritage Studies Third Biennial Conference, Montreal, Canada, 3rd – 8th June 2016.

Democratising the Digital: Sustaining Community-sourcing Platforms for Heritage Management and Conservation by Co-creation. Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology 2016: Exploring Oceans of Data, Oslo, Norway, 29th March – 2nd April 2016.

(Leif) Harald Fredheim

Contact details

Harald Fredheim
Department of Archaeology
University of York
The King's Manor