Very good news – our research design was accepted by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and we will soon begin carrying out the research. Below are some slides telling the ‘story so far’, covering the process we went through in the Phase 1 co-design phase and the plans we’ve developed for Phase 2.
Phase 1: We spent Phase 1 generating lots of ideas and from this realized we did have broadly shared aims for our research. We refined these into this statement:
Decision making about heritage is difficult. This is partly because heritage decision making has formed around the idea that the interests of people in the past, present and future need to be taken into account and that it is necessary to consider different and sometimes conflicting ideas of what is important or significant. We think we could make heritage decision making easier (and better) if we could identify the ‘boundaries’, ‘sticking points’, ‘blocks’ and ‘exclusions’ in current practices. We will do this through actively drawing on the multiple perspectives and locations of the Research Team, through deploying experimental action research approaches and holding these together with thinking informed by ideas of systems and complexity to generate new insights. Understanding the dynamics of ‘heritage decision making’ in this way will help everyone with a stake to self-consciously develop decision making processes and practices and through this reshape our understandings of ‘heritage’ itself.
But while we shared the same broad aims…we also realized we didn’t necessarily want to do explore them using the same type of activities or by using the same methods! So influenced by Danny Burns’ idea of parallel action in action research – going where the energy is rather than seeking consensus – we’ve developed three enquiry strands which are orientated towards ‘heritage’ in different ways: ‘from within’, ‘experimenting’ and ‘interrogating’.
Phase 2 plan:
From within: ‘making the familiar strange’
Members of the research team with ‘live’ museum or community heritage projects will work with a ‘critical friend’ (either Rebecca Madgin or Helen Graham) to actively reflecting on their own decision making and explore our research questions with people they collaborate with locally. Mike Benson (Bede’s World); Danny Callaghan (Potteries Tile Trail); Jenny Timothy (Leicester City Council) and Alex Hale (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland) will all work on this.
Experimenting: ‘Other ways of making decisions’
Tim Boon, Richard Courtney and Helen Graham will work with a recruited group of people who will be invited to make recommendations for what might be added to the Science Museum music technology collections. Alongside this the group will reflect on the questions raised by this process: What is expertise? What makes decisions about collecting legitimate?
Interrogating: ‘public inquiry’
Strand 3 is an interrogation (from the outside) and does this by launching a grassroots public inquiry into whether heritage is good for York (with York Civic Trust, York’s Alternative History and helped out along the way by Rachael Turner, MadLab). This will include citizen journalism and big data crunching, participatory exhibitions and public events with the city’s decision makers.
All throughout we’ll be covered in our activities by Hive Radio, community media group based at Bede’s World.
To keep in touch and join in the debates which will emerge as we go along sign up to our our discussion list. We’ll also be tracking our progress here on this blog and warmly welcome and encourage comments and reflections as our plans unfold…