The University of Birmingham is running a project called ‘Communicating World Heritage: Meanings, Values and Practices among Communities of Interest’. 

The project is an AHRC Collaborative doctoral research project which began in 2014. It has been a collaboration between the University, the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (IIICH), and the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust

Ironbridge Gorge

It focuses on the relationships that World Heritage Sites share with different communities of interest in communicating World Heritage Values, using the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site as the case study.

The project’s themes are: World Heritage Education (Jamie Davies), Specialist groups and World Heritage – Ironbridge Gorge as an Industrial World Heritage Site (Joe Raine), Tourism within Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site (Coralie Acheson), and World Heritage and Local Communities (Malgorzata Trelka).

Ethnographic methods

These four themes were developed independently of each other, but each have used a combination of ethnographic methods to investigate the complex dynamics in the respective communities of interest. 

During the project, the researchers have presented their work at conferences in the UK, Europe, Thailand and Japan, as well as through lectures at the IIICH. 

In October 2017, they organised an international conference within the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage site, which saw them share the project’s initial results.