Activist/ Researcher/ Insider/ Outsider: A conversation about fields of work

Vanicka Arora (India, Australia, Nepal), Iida Käyhkö (Finland,UK, Kurdistan), Sarah De Nardi (Italy, Australia, Pakistan)

What if heritage isn’t so much about things, but more about the things we say and do to each other?

What roles do we play in (mis)translating, (mis)representing and (mis)communicating heritage and how might we negotiate these roles?

Who shapes our research agendas and what roles do language play in framing newer understandings of heritage?

What perspectives does working with women as a woman bring to our work? 

An Ongoing Conversation

We attempt to connect multiple threads of ongoing conversations on decolonising heritage, its interpretations and how heritage practices are translated and transformed in different contexts. Referring to our own experiences as activists, researchers, insiders, and outsiders to the ‘field of study’, we put forth a conversation that is not quite linear — because research is rarely linear. We look back to our past experiences in Pakistan, Nepal, UK, Australia, Italy, Finland and Kurdistan, interrogating our own position within our chosen sites of intervention.

We use a virtual pin-board of ideas (a Padlet), images and sometimes unfinished arguments, hoping to draw and redraw new connections within and beyond our research in an ever-widening quest for multiplicity of voice. A conversation across time zones and field sites, this is a dialogue through images, sounds and words. We welcome your thoughts and ‘pins’ and invite you to start discovering new connections of your own!

Join the Conversation!

Add your own stories, thoughts and responses to our queries in any of these formats-

On Padlet

Made with Padlet

Add a story by simply clicking on the + button on the padlet. You can add text, images, even a video if you like! You can also add comments to our pins on the padlet and respond to our themes and discussion.

Your posts will be updated and shared via festivalCHAT. Feel free to circulate this as far and wide as you like.

You can post without logging in or signing up with the Padlet- or create your free account!

We will be moderating the Padlet through the festival and it will remain live for a month afterwards.

On Twitter

We will be posting content from the Padlet with the Twitter hashtags #festivalCHAT2020 #HeritageConversations

You can join in the conversation by simply replying to Tweets with your own thoughts and provocations.

Follow us on @VanickaA, @denardi77 and @iidaest

On You Tube

We had an impromptu chat about the Padlet which we have recorded where we go into depth about our observations and experiences and how they inform and transform us. Feel free to leave comments and we will get back to you!


You can also email us with further questions or thoughts:,,


These activities are publicly accessible and hosted online for the duration of festivalCHAT and for up to three months after.

You are free to delete your content at any time or alter your content.

You are free to post anonymously or use your name and affiliation, however these will be publicly displayed along with your content

Please read Padlet policies here

All content you share will be stored on Padlet’s and will be accessible to anyone with the supplied link.

Please only post content that you have the rights to use or share – please do not post copyrighted material.


Kythera and the gold rush, competing priorities or complementing research?

Richard MacNeill (Australia)

In this blog, Richard MacNeill set out to understand the relationship between water catchment and community in Kythera, but ended up shifting to the goldfields of Victoria, Australia. The two are oddly complementary…

 Click here to read the blog

History is in the home and around the corner

THE KOKRA FAMILY (line kramer and marjolijn kok)

Our vlog shows how you can still research the world when confined to your home or neighbourhood. Within 200 yards of our home we can zoom out from tiny personal knowledge, to broader natural disasters, and world events. We start in our home and talk about its history, show how high the water came during the flood of 1953 according to the stories of our late neighbour, then connect and walk to the monument around the corner remembering the fire line (brandgrens) in Rotterdam of May 1940. It shows how the bombardement in Rotterdam, which led to the surrender of The Netherlands, can be found in the buildings, urban myths and official commemoration.

When the circus leaves town: a virtual exploration of traces of the two London mega events

Jonathan Gardner (UK)

What remains in the aftermath of a temporary event like a festival, sporting spectacle, or exhibition?

How do both planned and unplanned event ‘legacies’ play out?

Explore these questions and more by experiencing two virtual tours taking in the history and archaeology of two London mega event sites at Crystal Palace Park, Sydenham and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford.

Using Google Tour Builder, you can explore these huge festival sites from the comfort of your own home along a route that takes in some of traces they have left behind. At each stop you can click to watch a short video or, alternatively, read the transcript and view images, as well as exploring the contemporary landscape using Street View.

Each tour is about an hour long, but you can take in as much or as little as you like. At the end of each tour there are links to further information.

A (virtual) walk around Crystal palace park, click here to launch the tour

This tour presents the history and archaeology of the Crystal Palace Park in Sydenham, South
London. This enormous park was once the home of the famous Crystal Palace. This
building was originally constructed in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition of 1851, but move
here in 1852 and reopened as a strange mixture of museum and theme park. The site provides
an excellent example of the varied ‘afterlives’ of temporary events and how their traces can
linger over the long-term.

A (virtual) walk around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, click here to launch the tour

This tour explores the history and archaeology of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London (the main site of the 2012 Olympic Games) from prehistory to the present. It takes in archaeological discoveries made during preparations for the Games as well as exploring the rich heritage of the area prior to the event, and discusses post- ‘legacy’ developments.

NB: Please note these tours will not work on a mobile browser so please view on a laptop or desktop computer. Please disregard the reference to the Q&A session in the tours (this has already taken place). Any errors within the content or presentation of the tours rest solely with their creator. Use of Tour Builder is according to Google’s Terms of Use and Terms of Service.

Please direct any technical queries or questions to

Meta ’Matta

Sophie Jennings (Australia)

Parramatta, derived from the Aboriginal place name ‘Burramatta’, is being developed as Greater Sydney’s second city, paralleling its origins as the second settlement established by Europeans in 1788. As the old makes way for the new, so archaeologists have been uncovering the recent and not-so-recent past. 

Meta ’Matta is foremost a personal exploration of doing archaeology in Parramatta over the past four years. Field archaeology is a constant process of interpretation and with this work I seek to reflect on the feelings and experiences that are peripheral but integral to the daily experience of practicing archaeology. It is recollections of commuting, coffee, food and booze. It is a showcase of Parramatta as it is now – midway through its transformation. It will also include an exploration of archaeological interpretation – the city’s past on display for its future. 

Click here to read the Meta ‘Matta blog post

Instagram: @metamatta

기와지붕 보러 갑시다 Let’s go see some roofs (in South Korea)

Geonyoung Kim (South Korea)

Bilingual blog tour in Korean and English.

In Korean, “tiled-roof house” is an idiom used to refer to a wealthy family.Nowadays, in big cities (except in city centres, ex: Gangnam in Seoul) or in small towns, one can easily find buildings or structures with a tiled-roof in a traditional form. In this tour, I will show you around roofs made of a variety of materials, in houses and buildings. For example, asbestos tiles on top of a red-brick house, plastic roof tiles that cover container homes, and a plastic dog house. I found it fascinating because the main body of the buildings keeps adopting a more up to dated form, with the roof remains in a quite traditional form.

In this tour, you will travel to South Korea, see some roofs of houses, doghouses, public toilets, and roofs with many kinds of materials. This is a bilingual blog tour in Korean and English. It will take around 5 minutes to finish the tour for each language. To take the tour, please click the link below. There are some parts where you can swipe to see more pictures.

Click here to read the tour

If you have any comments or questions, please leave comments below or contact me @KGeonyoung or to

The Material Culture of Temperature: Geosemiotics, Thermocapitalist Quantification

Scott Schwartz (US)

Talk and Live Q&A event Monday 26 October 13:00-14:00 EDT (New York); 17:00-18:00 GMT (London)

The temperature in New York today has been predicted and calculated 26 billion times. This prodigious number-crunching is the work of just one entity—IBM’s artificial intelligence program Deep Thunder. A fraction of these and other temperatures animate global cityscapes as electrified numbers framing fashion ads and dotting skylines. Here I present four years of documentary work on the material culture of temperatures in New York.

Temperature was invented just over three centuries ago. While cosmologists assure us that fluctuations in heat are as old as the universe, a quantified scale for observing these fluctuations is relatively recent. As a culturally produced system of observing heat, temperature exemplifies a dominant approach to producing knowledge that developed alongside colonial capitalist forms of social organization in Western Europe. This multi-media Zoom presentation critiques the epistemology of capitalism through an in-depth analysis of five specific temperature artifacts. I excavate the semiotic stratigraphy of each temperature, demonstrating the material interactions from which the number is extracted (be it the contractions of mercury, the electric resistivity of manganese oxide, or the laser- induced stasis of Rubidium). This effort builds on Karen Barad’s argument that meaning, matter, and measurement are fundamentally inseparable. Temperature demonstrates well that the discursive and the material cannot be parsed—all matter signals discursively and all discursive signals have material strata.

In excavating the semiotic events these five temperatures produce, I reveal how temperatures (and to some extent all urban quantification) reify the hypothetical worlds necessary for the performance of capitalism. That is, the ubiquitous banality of temperature naturalizes a reality into which wealth (capital) must grow, marketing a dehumanized future. Public temperatures occupy incredibly expensive urban space—they are not helpful public services, but guideposts weaving together the time of capitalism. Tomorrow already has a temperature. My work rematerializes colonial extraction, much how earlier work has attempted to denaturalize oppression and discrimination. Just as archaeology has theorized perceptions of time, this work problematizes the thermodynamics of social organization: capitalism requires tremendous heat.

Black in Archaeology

Film Creators Archaeologists: Alexandra Jones, Alexis Morris, Mia Carey (US)

Short film and Q&A on Friday 23 October 16:00 EST (21:00 BST London)

Where does Black Archaeology stand in relation to the movement of Black Lives Matter? Historically, archaeology is rooted in colonial, imperial, and white patriarchal systems that have been exploitative and extractive in nature. While organizations, such as the Society of Black Archaeologists, have seen a steady growth in the members over the past seven years, this growth, while worthy of celebration, beckons the question to the predominantly white archaeological community: What social justice efforts has the discipline taken to ensure that Black Lives Matter, historically and contemporarily? More specifically, is the discipline a safe space for Black archaeologists to conduct work? And, how have the experiences of Black Archaeologists improved since 1980. This short film explores these issues through targeted questions posed to several Black archaeologists who discuss their experiences in the field of archaeology.


Rubble Rubble: mapping waste stories

Jonathan Gardner (UK)

Share your varied experiences of waste materials, and landscapes transformed by waste, on an interactive map. These can be added until the live discussion event Wednesday 28 October 16:30-17.30 (GMT).

Waste materials such as rubble, garbage, spoil or slag have been used to transform landscapes for thousands of years. Sometimes this is an intentional and creative act such as reclaiming land using demolition rubble, or recycling materials into new structures. At other times such transformation is more gradual and is more of a ‘by- product’; for example when plants and animals colonise a spoil heap and it comes to be valued as a natural heritage site. In other cases, individual fragments of waste like a chunk of a demolished building or piece of garbage can end up being protected and curated as heritage, with waste materials acting as representatives of distant times and places.

With this in mind I want to hear your tales and anecdotes of waste materials and waste-modified landscapes and share them online during festivalCHAT!

Some inspirational questions to get you started:

> Do you have a favourite brick?
> Do you wonder if that prized possession you lost years ago still lies buried somewhere in a gargantuan landfill?
> Is your house built on reclaimed land and, if so, does this bother or reassure you?
> Have you ever rescued something from a demolition site?
> Do you treasure a piece of a ruined monument or nostalgically curate a chunk of your first flat?
> Have you ever seen garbage magically transformed into ‘heritage’?

What do I have to do?

All you have to do is add a ‘story’ to the map about a waste object, material or landscape (or some combination therein) which can be in the form of a few lines of text, an image with a caption, a video or something else.

The Rubble Rubble Padlet map link to access and share works best on a desktop or tablet scale browser rather than a phone).

Made with Padlet

Click on the pink + button to start and then choose your rough location, add text, and upload any files you like. You can have as many posts as you like and you also link them together using the options button (the ellipsis … symbol on the top right of your post).

Your posts will then be shared online with festivalCHAT and you can share the link further afield if you like too. Here’s one I made earlier!

Images can either be uploaded (keep them to around 0.5mb max if possible) or linked to (e.g. from within google drive, Flickr etc.). If you don’t have an image consider linking to a creative commons image online (be sure to provide attribution in the text box if required).

You can either include your name in the post or choose to submit anonymously. You can also email me submissions (please include a rough location if doing this) and I can post them on your behalf.

What will happen then?

Anyone with the link can post to and view the Padlet map. You can post without logging in or you can choose to create an account if you wish to edit your submission at a later date.

The Rubble Rubble map will be accessible and editable for the duration of festivalCHAT and beyond. I will also host a live discussion during festivalCHAT (28 October 16:30 GMT) where I will discuss your submissions (and some of my own) and introduce my new project. If you attend the live component you are also very much invited to discuss your submission in person too!

This activity is held to celebrate the launch of my new research project Reimagining British Waste Landscapes funded by the Leverhulme Trust and Edinburgh College of Art (University of Edinburgh).

Please contact me with any questions:

DISCLAIMERS: please read in full here if you want to take part