About me

I am an experienced qualitative researcher, familiar with both academic and applied contexts. In 2021, I completed my PhD at the University of Stirling, UK.

My interests are in the contemporary significance of what might be broadly termed historic places, although by no means limited to formally recognised heritage sites, and the impact they have on society.

I followed my passion and studied History as an undergraduate, followed by a Masters in Environment, Development and Policy, which led to a career working internationally for organisations focused on social justice, human rights, and participatory democracy.

I returned to academia in 2015, completing a Masters of Research in Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen, a skills set I drew on extensively during my PhD. My doctoral research (2018-2021) examined how we can assess and evidence the social values of historic environments and involved trialling a range of rapid, qualitative, and participatory methods.

Whether at a national level or focused on an individual place, there is a politics and power associated with determining whose knowledge, whose reality, and whose heritage counts. It is, therefore, critical for practitioners to be able to work with a multiplicity of social values and types of knowledge as part of their day-to-day practice.

My doctoral research had a strong applied focus, exploring how the methods trialled and resulting understandings of place might be applied in formal heritage management and conservation contexts. I was fortunate in that my PhD was a collaborative doctoral award, in partnership with Historic Environment Scotland. This partnership provided a critical grounding in the real-world realities of heritage practitioners that enriched my academic work as well as informing the development of a toolkit of guidance for heritage practitioners, which draws practical lessons from the overall findings, illustrated by examples from the seven case studies completed as part of my research.

My studies have coalesced around theories of collaborative knowledge production and methods for understanding and working productively with complexity. Based on my research, I have seen that adopting more collaborative approaches and engaging with different communities’ expertise through a range of people-centred methods is achievable within applied contexts. Moreover, doing so puts people at the heart of understanding, co-creating, and maintaining the social values of the historic environment, and that, I believe, has the potential to result in more socially relevant and socially engaged forms of heritage practice.

I am a member of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS), the European Association of Archaeologists and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.