Connecting (to) Heritage Studies in the U.S.: A Consortium at Arkansas State University June 15-18. More information here.


US Chapter meeting at the 2016 ACHS Conference in Montreal (June 3-8) will be held on Monday June 6 at 12:30 – 1:30. Room TBD.

US Chapter-sponsored film festival and reception at the conference: Monday June 6th @ 6pm in Concordia, LB 123.

FALL 2015

3rd International Conference of ACHS – LAST CALL FOR PAPERS:


We are happy to announce that the 3rd International Conference of ACHS will be held in Montreal (June, 2016). You can find more information here. ACHS-US is helping to organize a session(s) on critical heritage studies in N. America; please email if you’re interested.

Upcoming Event: Cultural Heritage: Conflict and Reconciliation

The Smithsonian Institution and the University of Chicago’s Cultural Policy Center are hosting an afternoon event to discuss the ways that cultural heritage is increasingly implicated in conflict and also used to aid societal reconciliation and revitalization. This event will bring together academic, government, intergovernmental, civic and private sector leaders to discuss the global state-of-affairs for cultural heritage protection and promotion, and to consider forms of cooperation in research and professional practice around this increasingly important dimension of international affairs.The featured panel of cultural heritage leaders for this event includes:
Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO (if schedule allows)Mounir Bouchenaki, Director of the Arab Regional Centre for World HeritageRichard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture, Smithsonian InstitutionEmily Rafferty, President, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Interviewed by David Rubenstein, Smithsonian Regent and University of Chicago Trustee and co-founder, The Carlyle Group
Friday, April 17 @ 2-5PM
Meyer Auditorium
Freer Gallery of Art
Smithsonian Institution
Washington D.C.
Please register here


To join ACHS-US, please email: criticalheritageusa(at)

News from the 2nd International Conference of ACHS: Our session, Critical Heritage Studies in North America: Issues, Ideas, and Forward Thinking, was well-received. The room was crowded and the Q&A was very engaging. Among other topics, discussions focused on the the potential for US adoption, or ratification, of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Indeed, the popularity of the ICH discourse was certainly reflected at the conference; a large number of sessions and papers were dedicated to critically examining the UNESCO-ICH framework, especially from the perspectives of local-level stakeholders in a wide variety of geographical locations. Moreover, papers also brought to light projects and programs, including touristic endeavors, that seek to help safeguard and promote living traditions in diverse places across the globe. Even though the US may not officially participate in the ICH framework, it is important to be a part of these dialogues and debates, and to share the theories and practices with which we engage in our work and studies. You can view the 2nd International ACHS Conference program by scrolling to the bottom of this page here.

Meredith Holmgren (Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage) is leading the pan-institutional project, Intangible Heritage at the Smithsonian (ICH @ SI), which has recently launched its website here.


Trans-Atlantic Dialogues on Cultural Heritage (Liverpool, July 13-16).

Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values Conference, the Center for Heritage & Society, UMASS Amherst (May 13-15).

Sharing Cultures: 4th International Conference on Intangible Heritage (Lagos, Portugal, Sept. 21-23).

8th International Conference of The Inclusive Museum (New Delhi, August 7-9).

FALL 2014

We have successfully pulled together a session on critical heritage studies in North America for the December ACHS conference in Canberra. Participants include: Laurier Turgeon (Laval University, Quebec), Hilary A. Soderland (University of Washington School of Law), Bryony Onciul (University of Exeter, UK), Meredith Holmgren (CFCH), James Early (CFCH), and Michelle Stefano (Maryland Traditions/UMBC).
A close relative of the critical heritage studies movement is the International Movement for the New Museology (MINOM) of ICOM, which has been promoting sociomuseological thinking and activity at the local level since the late 1970s. Our recent meeting in Havana, Cuba, was written about here in the Cuban newspaper, Granma (in Spanish).
Dr. Christina Kreps (University of Denver) spoke about ICH and museums at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH) on Thursday, Oct. 23rd, and about indigenous/appropriate museology at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) on Friday, Oct. 24th (co-sponsored by American Studies and the Dresher Center at UMBC).
 American Studies at UMBC and CFCH have teamed up again this fall: students in the course, Issues and Ideas in Critical Heritage Studies, will be discussing the 2003 ICH Convention, among other concepts and issues, at a seminar at CFCH onFriday, Nov. 7th, which will also include a guided visit to NMAI with Dr. Douglas Herman, their Senior Geographer.


Remembering Sparrows Point – Thursday, April 10th @ 7:30 PM at the Creative Alliance (3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore, MD 21224)

Join us for two film screenings and a discussion exploring the importance of the Sparrows Point Steel Mill. Recently closed, the Sparrows Point Steel Mill helped to shape the lives of hundreds of thousands of steelworkers and associated personnel for well over a century. To keep its memory alive, Creative Alliance will screen two short films, Mill Stories and Life After Steel, present a reading by Deborah Rudacille, author of Roots of Steel: Boom and Bust in an American Mill Town, and engage the audience in a discussion with former Sparrows Point workers.


WINTER 2014 

Dresher Center for the Humanities at UMBC discussion panel on the ‘politics of heritage’ (Tuesday, Feb. 18th, 5pm – 6:30). Scroll down for info here:

Two conference CFPs!

Association of Critical Heritage Studies 2nd Conference (Canberra, Australia, December 2014):

ECOMUSEUMS 2014 -alternative and community-based museological approaches to safeguarding heritage (Portugal, September, 2014):

FALL 2013 

We are happy to report that the two panels at AFS and AAA (see previous news item) sparked great discussions about wide-ranging ‘heritage’ issues, such as ‘good’ museum work, sustainable tourism, intellectual property, and UNESCO efforts, to name only a few. These events served to deepen the connection between US-based, heritage scholarship and work and the international heritage discourse.

The AFS panel, Connecting Public Folklore to Critical Heritage Studies:  Issues, Challenges and
Opportunities for Dialogue:

Public folklore strongly resonates with what is internationally understood as ‘heritage studies,’ particularly since it primarily addresses ongoing traditions rooted in the past rather than historical practices.   Generally, both disciplines seek to uncover the complexities of representing the past in the present, as well as sustaining heritage in association with communities. Recently, “critical heritage studies” has emerged as a movement to critically investigate heritage-making institutions, policy structures, and the relationships of experts with community practitioners, both locally and globally. This session explores show public folklore scholarship and practice can contribute to heritage studies (and vice versa), considering how public folklore approaches the conceptualization, interpretation, mediation and safeguarding of heritage in the US.

Michelle Stefano (UMBC / Maryland Traditions) – What the UNESCO Paradigm for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage Can Learn from Public Folklore Work in the US: Examples from Maryland Traditions


Gregory Hansen (Arkansas State University) – Heritage Studies and Public Folklore: A Tale of Two Traditions

Meredith Holmgren (Smithsonian CFCH) – Navigating the Nexus of Folk Music and Cultural Policy

The AAA Roundtable, Critical Heritage Studies and Anthropology: an international conversation:

Critical heritage studies, promoted by the newly-established Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS), comprises a growing, global network of heritage and museum scholars, researchers and professionals from a wide-array of fields and disciplines, who strive to promote ‘heritage’ as an area of critical enquiry. More specifically, critical heritage studies aims to unpack and interrogate more-traditional understandings and uses of ‘heritage’, as well as to increase access to heritage-making processes at multiple geographical scales. Indeed, critical heritage studies serves to underscore the fact that there still remains a need for greater inclusiveness for all heritage and culture-related stakeholders when it comes to identifying, documenting, interpreting, displaying, disseminating, promoting, safeguarding and benefitting from heritage – whether tangible and/or intangible.

Laurajane Smith (Australian National University), Michelle Stefano, Meredith Holmgren, Molly Malone (University of British Columbia)

SUMMER 2013 

The American Folklore Society (AFS) Annual Meeting will be held in Providence from October 16th – 19th, 2013 with the theme of Cultural Sustainability. ACHS-US and colleagues have organized the panel, Connecting Public Folklore to Critical Heritage Studies: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities for Dialoguewhich is sponsored by the Public Programs Section of AFS and will be held the morning of October 18th. More information can be found here:

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) Annual Meeting will be held in Chicago from November, 20th – 24th, 2013 with the theme of Future Publics, Current Engagements. ACHS-US will be running a roundtable panel/discussion, organized with Laurajane Smith of ACHS, entitled, Critical Heritage Studies and Anthropology: an international conversation. You can find out more about the meeting here:

Please note that the 2nd international conference for the main ACHS is currently being organized for December, 2014 in Canberra, Australia (at the Australian National University). Currently, there is a call for session proposals (deadline: November 1st, 2013). This provides a great opportunity for linking US-based heritage work, issues and ideas to the broader international discourse, and critically examining the heritage enterprise with colleagues from around the world. Session proposal / ideas are welcome, so please do not hesitate to reach out! More information here:

SPRING 2013 

The Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project is pleased to announce an ancestral remembrance ceremony in Yorktown, VA on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, 2013, 8:00-9:30am on the waterfront. During this event the first marker associated with our efforts to mark Middle Passage arrival ports in the US will be unveiled. The National Park Service Jamestown/Yorktown and York County shouldered these accomplishments with the support of members of the Yorktown Middle Passage Committee. This is an invitation to ask you to join us if you are able. We are formally honoring and remembering more than 31,500 Africans who arrived in the York River District between 1698-1771 and the contributions of their descendants in creating this nation. We also are honoring the approximately 4,000 Africans who perished during these ocean voyages to the York River.

Above photo by Edwin Remsberg.