Led by Professor Deborah Philips, CMNH plans to establish a new research area on Heritage in the Twenty-First Century. Stimulated by the emergence of a new Heritage research group based in the Language, Literature and Media academic programme in the School of Humanities at Falmer, which organised the CMNH Annual Symposium 2014-15, this has the potential to become a focal point bringing together a number of parallel initiatives on heritage currently taking place within the University, and creating a framework for their cross-fertilisation.
One such initiative is the Heritage Forum at the University of Brighton at Hastings, which organised a half-day forum in October 2014 on ‘Cultural Regeneration through Heritage: Hastings, Heritage and Local History’. to explore the role of heritage and local history in recent government policy on sustainable ‘self-renewal’; the contribution heritage has made to the project of economic, social and cultural ‘regeneration’ in Hastings, in terms of the town’s economy, cultural tourism, and community ‘belonging’; and critical debates about the politics of heritage status, representation and consumption. Another is the long-established research area on Information and Communications Technologies for Cultural Heritage, exploring the role of digital technologies in heritage preservation, documentation and use, developed by the Cultural Informatics Group in the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics. Further, well-established areas of research on heritage are those exploring its role in cultural tourism, in the Centre of Sport, Tourism and Leisure Studies in the School of Sport and Service Management; and its relation to museums, in the History of Art and Design academic programme in the School of Humanities at Grand Parade.
In 2015-16 Heritage was the dedicated theme of the CMNH Annual Seminar Series. This explored the diversity of current work under the rubric of ‘heritage’, developing these debates on heritage practices and texts in literature, film and TV and drawing in grassroots heritage practitioners including active members of the Sussex Bonfire Societies and Sussex Traditions. Founded in 2015 to collect, document, disseminate and encourage traditional lore, beliefs and activities including customs and crafts, songs and stories from across East and West Sussex, Sussex Traditions was supported by CMNH in securing a start-up grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund; and in 2016 members of the group delivered a workshop in the Seminar Series. Further collaboration is planned. Much of the Centre’s work in local and community history (see above) involves support for funding applications to the HLF, and these activities will also feed into the ongoing development of our research in this area.