Exciting initiatives in the area of Cultural Heritage are being forged between two world-leading institutes at the University of Birmingham and the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. This partnership brings together the University of Birmingham’s Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (IIICH), a focal point for cross-disciplinary research, postgraduate teaching and policy engagement, and Illinois’ highly successful inter-disciplinary Centre focusing on Cultural Heritage – Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy (CHAMP).
This conference, focusing on heritage relations between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ worlds took place in Liverpool in July 2015. It was the first major conference to mark the initiative of Trans-Atlantic Dialogues on Cultural Heritage born out of the collaboration between the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (IIICH), University of Birmingham and the Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy (CHAMP), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Liverpool, as a place of emigration and immigration for nearly three centuries and rich in tangible and intangible heritage, provided an apposite and impressive setting for this event. Over 100 papers from academics from 28 countries dealt with a range of critical themes relating to each side of the Atlantic – North, South and between. Keynote speakers for the event were Professor Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University, USA and Professor Ulf Hannerz, Stockholm University, Sweden. Selected papers from the conference will be published by Ashgate and will form part of a series of books based upon the events organised jointly by CHAMP and IIICH.
The Ironbridge Institute worked with its partners at the University of Illinois and in turn, their partners at the University of Stockholm, to organise this conference that explored the many dimensions of death as heritage.
A new volume on heritage and popular culture – Encounters with Popular Pasts – has recently been published. It is edited by Professors Robinson and Silverman of Birmingham and Illinois respectively and is based upon a joint workshop held in 2013 at the University of Illinois. This volume includes contributions from a number of academics from both partner universities, and from other US universities and deals with the ways in which popular culture is now readily transformed into heritage and whose meanings and myths are reshaping social life and political and economic realities, as well as remaking traditions.
Work is underway in developing a Joint MA Programme in International Heritage Management between Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (IIICH), University of Birmingham and the Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy (CHAMP) at Illinois.
After a first and second round of competitive awards supported by the BRIDGE programme, several specialists in the heritage sector have visited the University of Birmingham and Ironbridge during the summer of 2015. Professor Helaine Silverman commenced her research on the marketing of the Ironbridge Gorge as a World Heritage Site. She was joined by Dr Paul Kapp, who has been working on the heritage of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, and Dr Susan Frankenburg, who is working to put together an exhibition on Ironbridge at the Spurlock Museum in 2016, and also Dr Mike Twidale from Illinois’ Graduate School of Library and Information Science, who will link up with Professor Robert Stone of Birmingham’s Interface Technologies (HIT) Team on how new technologies are used to better access heritage sites.
Professor Mike Robinson
Professor Helaine Silverman