Held by Professor Robin Coningham at the Centre for the Ethics of Cultural Heritage at Durham University, the Chair seeks to build and strengthen the ethical and balanced promotion of heritage to enhance the sustainable development of regions, especially those with religious and pilgrimage sites.
From developing new guidelines and opportunities for postgraduate education to training and connecting heritage professionals and managers in South Asia and the UK, and devising benchmarks for measuring the impact of cultural heritage on societies and economies – the Chair’s activities are diverse. Visiting professorships, supervision, on-site training, workshops and educational material are some examples of how Coningham and his team help to promote interdisciplinary north-south-south exchanges, advance ethical heritage development, and tackle gender inequality in this area.
The Chair also organises a variety of workshops, exhibitions and conferences where the team shares its research, brings together experts, and raises awareness of the challenges faced by South Asian sites and of the social and ethical benefits of heritage on local communities.
One of the Chair’s research projects included post-disaster rescue archaeology in the Kathmandu Valley UNESCO World Heritage Site following two major earthquakes in Nepal in 2015. This natural disaster was a human and cultural catastrophe, costing the lives and livelihoods of numerous people and damaging and destroying substantial parts of the region’s unique cultural heritage so crucial to the region’s economy and social well-being. The project received substantial funding from UNESCO, the National Geographic Society, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Global Challenges Research Fund.
The Chair was crucial in bringing together archaeologists and architectural experts from the Department of Archaeology (Government of Nepal), Durham University and other research institutions and partners to ensure the ethical and balanced reconstruction and sustainable development of the heritage and region through extensive consultation, reconstruction and conservation work.
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