Call for Papers


International Conference on Community Heritage

University of St Andrews, Scotland, Friday 8thNovember 2019

“Community Heritage” is front and centre of many new heritage strategies and visitor attractions in Scotland, and yet it is largely managed by volunteers and lacks definition as a sector in its own right. Over the past two years, the Museums, Galleries and Collections Institute (MGCI) at the University of St Andrews has worked in partnership with a number of organisations and grass-roots initiatives to better understand the community heritage landscape of Scotland – its characteristics, current needs and potentialities. This international conference is the culmination of a research workshops project funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and led by MGCI, the National Library of Scotland and Ergadia Heritage, seeking to understand the current needs and future aspirations of the Scottish community heritage sector. In association with the newly-formed Scottish Community Heritage Alliance we have consulted people at local level as to whether they see a need for a new national network and if so, what form it might take.* The conference further seeks to bring the Scottish reality into the light of international discourse affecting critical heritage studies today, including concepts of ‘authorised’ heritage, intangible cultural heritage, the role of youth and intergenerational transmission of knowledge, local development agendas, and social sustainability and wellbeing in the face of climate change and austerity.

The aim of the conference is threefold. Firstly, we will present the results of our twelve community heritage research workshops conducted at grass-roots level around Scotland. Secondly, the conference will contextualise community heritage in Scotland in relation to international developments such as networks of community museums, ecomuseums, heritage networks in post-conflict situations, and mobile or temporary museums, drawing on the experiences of intended guest speakers from Mexico, Brazil, Africa and other countries. Finally, the conference seeks to continue in the spirit of community consultation conducted so far by offering a discursive space for participatory and constructive discussion and debate on community heritage in Scotland. To this end, we invite proposals for short, 10-minute presentations or provocations on the theme to be presented in the morning, leaving the afternoon for group work and dynamic activities.

Proposals for historical and theoretical positions or case studies are welcome addressing the following questions:

  • What is community heritage?
  • What is the relationship between nature and culture in the community heritage landscape?
  • What motivates people to contribute to community heritage?
  • What is the role of community heritage in community empowerment?
  • What is the role of community heritage in local development?
  • What steps can be taken to ensure sustainable heritage projects? Or are short-term (finite) projects with set achievable goals a better strategy?
  • What challenges does community heritage face in comparison to other heritage organisations?
  • What are the values and potentialities of partnership working across community heritage groups?
  • What could a bespoke national network do for community heritage in Scotland?
  • What national or international models might a national network learn from or emulate?
  • What is the role of community heritage in Global Challenges?
  • Who should be responsible for decision making about community heritage locally, regionally, nationally?

Please send proposals of maximum 300 words for papers of 10 minutes, together with a short biography of maximum 100 words to Dr Karen Brown (Director, Museums, Galleries and Collections Institute, School of Art History) at, and Jamie Brown, by 31 August 2019.

*This conference is supported by the Royal Society of Edinburgh Research Workshops fund. The project follows on from a pilot project in 2018 supported by Historic Environment Scotland, Archaeology Scotland, Ergadia Heritage, Northlight Heritage, the Independent Association of Museums, and the School of Art History, University of St Andrews.