Critical Heritages of Europe?

Tuesday 14 February 2017, 5.15PM

Speaker(s): Chris Whitehead (University of Newcastle)

In this talk I introduce and contextualize the CoHERE project, a major Horizon 2020 grant award on Critical Heritages: performing and representing identities in Europe. I developed the CoHERE project in 2015, in response to European-level concerns about identity, integration and disaffection with the political and social project of the EU itself. At the time, there was a will to identify, understand and valorise European heritages, engaging with their socio-political and cultural significance and their potential for developing communitarian identities. This was before Brexit! But even then CoHERE was prescient in setting out to address the significances of history, memory and heritage in an intensifying ‘EU Crisis’. It explores the tensions between different mobilisations of heritage – to reinforce division and isolate, or to find common ground and ‘encourage modern visions and uses of its past’ – the hoped-for result of the funder. I will explore this complex interface between European heritage research and the contemporary political contexts and relations in which it is situated, while articulating some of the intersections between the fields that the research involves, such as heritage and memory (both in institutional forms and in people’s everyday lives), museums, uses of the past, festivals and re-enactments, musics, cuisine, language, digital cultures and schooling. I ask: what outcomes – political, social, cultural, academic and practical – can we hope for from CoHERE?

Read up on the CoHERE project at and view updates on

Chris Whitehead is Professor of Museology at Newcastle University (UK) and Professor II of Museology and Heritage Studies at University of Oslo (NO). I have a background in Art History and Curatorship, but have since published numerous books and articles in the fields of museum history (The National Art Museum in 19th-Century Britain, 2005), knowledge construction (Museums and the Construction of Disciplines, 2009), art interpretation (Interpreting Art in Museums and Galleries, 2012) and European museums and migration (various, but my most recent is Museums, Migration and Identity in Europe, 2015). I am co-ordinator of the Critical Heritages (CoHERE): performing and representing identities in Europe Horizon 2020 Project, which explores the ways in which identities in Europe are constructed through heritage representations and performances that connect to ideas of place, history, tradition and belonging. Before this I was an investigator on the EU-funded MeLa project (Museums in an Age of Migrations). I am currently working on CoHERE publications, on place and identity, protest and heritage, heritage practice in Turkey and the theory and methodology of museum display analysis. I co-convene the Cultural Significance of Place research group at Newcastle University ( and am also busy developing, a free web resource to help museums to engage with the theme of migration.

Location: King's Manor / 159

Admission: Free & open to all. Join us for wine at 5.15pm, with talk beginning at 5.30pm. This is a YOHRS (York Heritage Research Seminars) event livestreamed through