Supervisor: John Schofield
Summary of research project
Focusing on Valletta (Malta), a UNESCO world heritage site, this PhD explores the limitations that conventional heritage values and significance can entail. These often-rigid definitions, in conjunction with the pressures of development and tourism, contribute to a heritage landscape that is commodified, exclusive and disconnected from the living communities that continue to live in or interact with the city.
The research project is being designed to use mixed methodological approach, combining site-specific case studies, interviews and in-situ community value assessment and story collection. I aim to demonstrate that official heritage values can be successfully counter-mapped by exploring the contemporary histories of these heritage places and their continued and evolving significance to the city’s varied, living communities.
I obtained my BA in History and Anthropology at Luther College (USA) in 1999. In 1998 I was given the opportunity to do fieldwork in the UK, attending the Castell Henllys field-school run by the University of York, which became a fixture for the following three summers. This led to me to enrol into the (at the time) newly introduced MA Historical Archaeology program at University of York in 2000. Following graduation, I pursued an eclectic and seemingly random employment trajectory, from working in system support and training in Switzerland and London, to running a small industrial bakery on my home island of Malta. I maintained my relationship with heritage and archaeology through my involvement and volunteering with local organizations and NGOs.
Returning to academia after an eighteen-year hiatus, I completed an MA in Cultural Heritage Management at the University of York in 2019. My researched focused on the overlooked heritage significance of an 18th century fort to a community of musicians that used its storerooms and gunnery emplacements as their band rehearsal spaces during the 1980s. The project was motivated by the recent restoration of the fort and the development of the surrounding military landscape into luxury apartments and shopping malls., a process which all but obliterated any remaining physical evidence of the community’s occupation of the fort. These themes of heritage disconnect in the face of rapid development and urban transformation underscore my primary research interests in the heritage of the contemporary world.