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Critical Approaches to Heritage Studies (ResMA)


Admission requirements

Students admitted to the MA Asian Studies (research). Students of admitted to the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) and having an interest in heritage studies are encouraged to get into touch with the convenor to see how their interests can be catered to.

Students of other departments are kindly referred to the regular MA course Ciritcial Approaches to Heritage Studies.


Who engages in the selection of the objects, places, and practices which are considered as heritage, and why? What happens when different actors use heritage for claiming conflicting interests? This course calls into question the values which frame heritage selection; further, it understands the interplay of competing agendas, and productively assesses heritage management measures. It examines heritage as an inexhaustible réservoir of cultural contents, which gives meaningful insights into the way social agents represent themselves and their respective groups with regard to multiple (and sometimes even contradictory) regimes of values and ownership.

Drawing on a wide range of case studies from Asia, we will question the assumptions underlying various heritage notions, which are mainly inspired by European approaches. We will ask whether Asia can be a source of innovative concepts and methods in the heritage field, with the aim of developing a more holistic way of conceiving and dealing with heritage.

The course is organized around a cluster of lectures and workshop, during which the students will be actively engaged in presentations, discussion, and paper writing. Michael Herzfeld, Professor of Anthropology from Harvard University, will offer a week intensive classes in the frame of this course (September 2014).

Teaching materials
Suggested reading: Harrison, R. 2013. Heritage. Critical Approaches. London: Routledge. Additional materials (primary and secondary sources) will be listed in the syllabus of the course.

Course objectives

  • Students will be provided with the theoretical tools to autonomously recognize from an historical perspective the assumptions underlying various heritage notions and approaches.

  • They will be asked to develop and express their own perspective over the examined case studies and to be active producers of knowledge on one topic of their choice.

  • They will develop a reflexive attitude towards existing management systems, policies, and plans. This will enable them to propose innovative measures for the management of different forms of heritage.


Classes every Thursday from 3 to 5pm, starting from September 11th.
See timetable

Mode of instruction


Course Load

10 EC = 280 hrs

Lectures/seminars = 34h
(2 hours/week x 14 weeks + 3 courses (2h each) with M. Herzfeld)
Extra sessions = 6 hrs
Study of literature = 100 hours
Written assignments (notes based on reading + extended final paper) = 140 hours

Assessment method

  • Active participation at the class meetings (including oral presentations and collective discussions): 25%

  • Critical analysis of literature and other sources 25%

  • Paper writing 50%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average.

Resit: students can submit a revised version of the final paper in February.


Yes, blackboard will be used for:

  • Describing, uploading, and grading the assignments;

  • Uploading teaching materials (e.g. power point presentations);

Reading list

This is a preliminary selection of suggested readings. Students can read one of these books or some of the chapters of these edited volumes, in order to get familiar with the field of study and with the contemporary academic debates concerning heritage. Additional readings for each class will be provided in the syllabus.

Choay, F. 1996. L’allégorie du patrimoine. Paris: Editions du Seuil (in French).
Daly, P. and Winter, T. (eds). 2012. Routledge Handbook of Heritage in Asia. London: Routledge.
Fairclough, G. ; Harrison, R. ; Schofield, J. ; Jameson, J. (eds.). 2006. The Heritage Reader. London-New York : Routledge.
Harrison, R. 2013. Heritage. Critical Approaches. London: Routledge.
Hitchock, M., King, V.T., and Parnwell, M. 2009. Heritage Tourism in Southeast Asia. Copenhagen: NIAS Press.
Lowenthal, D. The Past is a Foreign Country. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Smith, L. 2006. Uses of Heritage. London-New York : Routledge.

For students of the MA Asian Studies (research) or the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) additional reading will be determined by the convenor at a later stage taking into account the student’s field of interest. Extra sessions will be organized to discuss this extra literature.


Students are required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”.


Dr. Adèle Esposito
Dr. Adèle Esposito