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This chapter addresses, through different perspectives, the role that shared archaeology and heritage work in the Caerau and Ely Rediscovering Heritage Project (CAER). From the beginning, the guiding principle has been to actively involve community members, groups, and heritage professionals in the co-production of archaeological and historical research. The project is focused on the Cardiff suburbs of Caerau and Ely. The knowledge, energy, and creativity of local people have been expressed through their engagement both with their local heritage and each other. It is the action of doing things together that has led to local communities having a stake both in the archaeology and the future of the area. Through enabling people to contribute in different ways, and to different intensities, the project has sought to hold the production of archaeological knowledge and social and political change in dynamic relationship.

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This chapter demonstrates how involving schoolchildren in active inquiry and sharing in responsibility for research can challenge the ‘content-driven model of learning’ in school. It considers a contextualised case study of work carried out in a small rural primary school in North-East Scotland. This work saw a community-based landscape researcher’s commitment to the full engagement of non-experts in the planning, investigation, and dissemination of landscape research being taken up by a head teacher, her staff, and pupils at Keig Primary School. Participants recognised and valued the strength of putting children in charge of shaping what and how they learn. Indeed, from the perspective of the landscape researcher and head teacher, the Keig project was designed to evaluate the practicality of using the principles of co-productive archaeological research to support children in leading their own historical investigation.

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This chapter examines the process of researching how to transmit musical heritage through the process of co-writing. The Transmitting Musical Heritage project team involved a number of different partners, all with particularly complex sets of skills. These interrelationships embedded between the academic institution and community partners had a strong impact on the project, its processes and its destinations. It involved varied approaches to practice and research, with the team and the co-producers, at times, occupying an amorphous zone where academics were academics, academics became musicians, musicians became academics, and musicians were also musicians. This community of practice was able to uncover tacit knowledge about playing and the process of making music together, as well as to unfold narratives about which heritage was valuable and why. This enabled a shared vocabulary of practice.

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This concluding chapter explores future directions for community heritage as research. These directions are indicated through reflections on, and for, some of those who will bring the futures of heritage into being: funders, universities, schools, and activists and communities. In the open future for funders of heritage projects and programmes, funding agencies would have built on the many successful experiments for developing co-produced and collaborative research. Research on heritage would be recognised as being at the vanguard of universities’ roles in their communities, both local and global. Schools that can find the curriculum in heritage, rather than in learning facts about the past, would create space for pupils and teachers to play an active role in researching the past in partnership with community and other heritage groups. Meanwhile, activists and communities would be enabled to have a much greater role in researching and telling their own heritage stories.

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This chapter explores the complexities of working on jointly funded digital cultural heritage projects and the challenges and benefits of partnership collaborations. In the Digital Building Heritage project, researchers at De Montfort University worked with community partners in order to bring history back to life through the use of digital technologies in 3D computer animation, 3D printing, 3D modelling, and mobile geo-location. An evaluation of the researchers’ experience of co-production and collaborative working highlights the importance of setting clear, feasible objectives and outcomes according to the resources available, including plans for user testing, maintaining regular communication, consideration of proposed digital product usage, and promotion. The chapter then considers the way in which this type of practice-based research can lead to academic outcomes suitable for audit programmes like the UK’s Research Excellence Framework.

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This chapter discusses the idea of do-it-yourself (DIY) heritage, that is, heritage as it is produced through people’s actions, conversations, and relationships. The chapter looks at the Do-It-Yourself Heritage Day event and how it worked to create moments of connection — what the Ceramic City Stories team call the ‘Stoke Ping’. It draws on wider DIY traditions ‘to describe an ethos of horizontal community action, of mutual aid and of making alternatives now’. DIY approaches challenge models of exponential growth that often exist in funding, policy, and activism, and instead favour the magic of small moments and connections. Yet, they also show — through a recent innovative Heritage Lottery Fund initiative — how funding can be deployed to enable rather than constrain DIY horizontal, small-scale, and action-led approaches.

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This chapter presents a few of the Researching Community Heritage (RCH) projects in more depth, introducing the activities of narrative, creative practice and engaged learning that were shared ways of working during the research. It reflects on how these activities engaged the participants with heritage as a creative and social process, rather than heritage as a body of immutable facts about the past. Through this attentiveness to process during the RCH project, the researchers became conscious of how researching was a means of enfranchising participants, and of revealing and contesting inequalities within and beyond the projects. The chapter then proposes an ‘action heritage’ framework for undertaking co-produced heritage research. RCH began with the seemingly straightforward aim of helping local community organisations find out more about their heritage. By the conclusion of RCH, the researchers were all aware of the radical repositioning of roles engendered by co-production.

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This book explores the nature of contemporary heritage research involving university and community partners. Putting forward a new view of heritage as a process of research and involvement with the past, undertaken with or by the communities for whom it is relevant, the book uses a diverse range of case studies, with many chapters co-written between academics and community partners. Through this extensive work, the book shows that the process of research itself can be an empowering force by which communities stake a claim in the places they live.

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Legacies of Co-production
Editors: and

Heritage as Community Research explores the nature of contemporary heritage research involving university and community partners. Putting forward a new view of heritage as a process of research and involvement with the past, undertaken with or by the communities for whom it is relevant, the book uses a diverse range of case studies, with many chapters co-written between academics and community partners. Through this extensive work, the Editors show that the process of research itself can be an empowering force by which communities stake a claim in the places they live.

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This introductory chapter provides an overview of heritage as community research. Many scholars have explored how discursive processes shape the past and how the past is understood in the present, deconstructing the ‘Authorised Heritage Discourse’ of professional museums and official heritage sites. From the point of view of the communities involved with heritage through research, it is not simply about discursively arguing against a mainstream interpretation of the past, but about making their own way into an exploration of the past. While the cases in this book function on the ‘local’ level in one sense, they are considerably more than just local history. Instead, they locate what may be much broader processes in specific situations of places and people. Framing this work as ‘inquiry’ draws attention to the ways in which ‘ways of knowing’ are also ways of acting in the world, ways of creating change and using the past for future-making.

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