Call for Papers: Researching Digital Cultural Heritage - International Conference, The University of Manchester

Researching Digital Cultural Heritage - International Conference
Manchester, 30 November - 1 December 2017

Digital tools, approaches, platforms and experiences have become ubiquitous within cultural heritage research and practice. The diverse facets of heritage that lend themselves to both multi/interdisciplinary and focused disciplinary investigation have made heritage a fertile ground for an abundance of methodological explorations: analogue, digital and hybrid. More recently, a range of digitally mediated frameworks, methods and tools, such as data mining, crowdsourcing, social network analysis, visual analysis, sentiment analysis and research-through-design have been adopted in heritage research challenging, expanding, re-defining and re-imaging the questions, methodologies and analytical approaches we are able to tackle. Although the resurgence of digital approaches within heritage and museum studies triggered the creation of the term Digital (Cultural) Heritage in the late 1990s, the reciprocal relationship between digital research methodologies and heritage and how they interface and shape each other has attracted limited critical attention and interest so far. However, in other fields the convergence of digital and academic research has led to the emergence of new disciplinary areas such as Digital Anthropology (Horst and Miller, 2012) and Digital Sociology (Orton-Johnson and Prior, 2013), the articulation of new ways of practicing research, e.g. Digital Ethnography (Pink et al, 2016) and Netnography (Kozinets, 2009 and 2015) and the rise of the broader fields of Digital Culture and Digital Humanities.

In the face of rapid technological, political and cultural change, which continuously re-shapes our understanding of heritage, there is the need to critically reflect on how we capture and research cultural heritage that is continuously mediated and/or re/constituted digitally. What are the challenges and implications of this research and how does it impact on different notions of heritage? For example, the emergence of digital cultural heritage spaces, objects and practices has prompted discussions about digital materiality; highlighted the ambiguity of digitally-born content as cultural heritage; and propositioned social media platforms and gaming spaces as meaningful research environments for emerging heritage practices.

The capacity of the digital to be both the focus and the method of cultural heritage inquiry raises both methodological and ethical issues in designing, conducting and analysing research in digital cultural heritage. If digital cultural heritage is “a field in which we practice as much as we analyse”, to borrow a phrase from digital ethnography (Pink, Digital Ethnography, p. 6), what does this mean for the methods we use and what kind of new imaginaries of heritage research do these methods enable?

Researching Digital Cultural Heritage proposes a critical examination of established and emerging theoretical, methodological and analytical frameworks in researching cultural heritage spaces, objects, audiences and practices in the digital realm. This includes both the impact that digital media have in developing new research methodologies and frameworks of analysis of cultural heritage; and the practice of researching digitally mediated or digitally constituted heritage objects, spaces and interactions and the environments in which this research takes place.

The conference aims to bring together established and early career academics, students, practitioners and policy makers from fields as diverse as museology, heritage studies, digital humanities, social anthropology, sociology, geography, education, history, archaeology, material culture studies, design, communication studies, cultural studies, media studies and computer science, who are interested in reflecting critically on research practices in digital cultural heritage.

We invite proposals for 20 minute presentations that focus and critically reflect on theoretical, methodological, ethical, or analytical approaches in researching cultural heritage in the digital realm. Indicative themes include:
Current and emerging research design, methodologies, methods and tools in researching cultural heritage in the digital realm (e.g. digital ethnography, social network analysis, visual analysis, sentiment analysis, text mining, big data, data visualisation, digital archives, web and social media analytics)
Digitally enabled collaborative, participatory and reflexive approaches in cultural heritage design, research and practice
Ethical considerations and processes in researching digital cultural heritage
Researching digital materiality in cultural heritage
Researching social media and digital games as cultural heritage
Researching audiences in digital cultural heritage environments
Researching organisational strategies, structures, processes and workforce in digital cultural heritage
Digital/online cultural heritage spaces as research environments

Please download and complete the proposal template and email it to

Deadline for proposals: Friday, 21 July 2017

Details about publication plans of conference papers will be announced in due course.
Conference organisers

Dr Kostas Arvanitis, University of Manchester
Dr Areti Galani, Newcastle University
Programme panel
Dr Guyda Armstrong, University of Manchester
Dr Chiara Bonacchi, University College London
Dr Shawn Day, University College Cork
Dr Maria Economou, University of Glasgow
Dr Jenny Kidd, Cardiff University
Dr Stelios Lekakis, McCord Centre, Newcastle University
Bethany Rex, Innovation Insights Hub, University of the Arts London
Dr Mia Ridge, The British Library
Dr Chiara Zuanni, Victoria & Albert Museum

Important dates
Submission of proposals: 21 July 2017
Notification of acceptance of proposals: 31 July 2017
Registration opens: 1 August 2017
Registration closes: 15 November 2017
Conference dates: 30 November - 1 December 2017

Conference venue

University of Manchester (venue tbc)
Conference fee
Standard Registration Fee: £140 (£70 per day)

Student Registration Fee: £70 (£35 per day)

Registration opens on Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Conference email address: