Culture heritage, tourism and economic development

More than ever before, heritage is at the heart of an increasingly complex and challenging network of relationships between producers, protectors, policy-makers and communities. The agendas of international tourism, sustainable development and community involvement compete alongside the expansion of cultural economies and the interplay of local and national identities. 

Communities may conflict with local, regional and national governments over issues of ownership and access. Tourists ‘test’ heritage and traditions and the tourism industry itself, with its attendant economies, increasingly requires heritage to take on an identity-making role. Indeed, cultural heritage sites now need to provide some tangible benefit beyond the aesthetic or historical qualities that previously justified their preservation. 

BRIDGE Fellow – Dr Ioanna Katapidi 

Dr Katapidi is interested in the interaction between people and place, and the role of heritage in this interaction. Her main research interest lies on the idea of heritage as a social construct, particularly in the way people perceive and ‘construct’ heritage. 

She is currently involved in an AHRC funded project named ‘World Heritage FOR Sustainable Development’. The aim of the project is to establish and build an international network that will explore various pathways by which sites already inscribed on the World Heritage List in the developing world can be sensitively mobilised so as to contribute to the fulfilment of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals. 

The ultimate focus of the project will be to share innovation and best practice with and between developing nations with World Heritage Sites.  

In addition, Dr Katapadi will be involved in ‘The Mythic Mississippi Project’ - an educational laboratory and development initiative offered by the University of Illinois. This is a long-term multi- and interdisciplinary project exploring a dozen places of major significance in the State of Illinois. 

Both projects require the involvement of different stakeholders and communities in the interpretation and management of heritage, with aims to have direct public impacts and to contribute to shaping more effective and welcome conservation policies and practices.

  • Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (IIICH) is a partnership formed over 30 years ago between the University of Birmingham and the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (IGMT) which manages the World Heritage Site and ten museums in Shropshire, UK 

  • CHAMP is the Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy at the University of Illinois. CHAMP is a strategic research centre dedicated to the critical study of cultural heritage and museum practices on a worldwide scale in the context of globalization. 

  • In December 2012, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Ironbridge Institute and CHAMP to encourage greater research cooperation between the two institutions. 

  • The relationship between the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (IIICH) at the University of Birmingham and the Collaborative for Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy (CHAMP) at the University of Illinois has been central to the BRIDGE alliance between the two institutions.