Researching Concepts


Mondays and occasional Fridays in Term 1 and 2.


During the module Researching Concepts, we will discuss theories, concepts and notions which inspire our professional interventions within and beyond the heritage field. In conversation with academic experts, we will reflect, at a conceptual level, on different academic and professional discourses about the dynamics of culture and societal change. The use and meaning(s) of key concepts such as culture, identity, heritage, sustainability, inclusivity, participation, authenticity and digitality are discussed, using concrete examples from different historical, social and spatial contexts.

Building on these discussions, and in preparation of their intervention design and research projects, students will become acquainted with different research methods and the professional skills needed to share and discuss the research findings with peers and others. Taking a dynamic, interactionist approach to culture aiming at meaningful interventions in response to societal issues, we will have a strong focus on social anthropological methods and creative design tools.

Students will visit different heritage organisations, ranging from well-established to grassroots organisations, to learn about their methodologies and the ways in which they connect to the world outside them. Meetings and discussions with staff members are part of the program, bringing students in contact with the ideas behind heritage practices and helping students to expand their professional network.

Learning objectives

To be able to:

  • Define and discuss the core concepts used in academic and professional discourses on the dynamics of heritage;
  • Define and discuss the core concepts used in academic and professional discourses on sustainability, inclusivity and digitality;
  • Compare and contrast academic and professional discourses on the dynamics of heritage in relation to discourses on sustainability, inclusivity and digitality;
  • Demonstrate a basic historical knowledge and a deep historical awareness in discussion of popular historical narratives.

To be able to:

  • Critically apply core concepts used in the field of ethnology and museology in relation to the dynamics of heritage making;
  • Critically apply the concepts and principles regarding sustainability, inclusivity and digitality in relation to the dynamics of heritage making and museum work;
  • Apply basic research methods.

To be able to:

  • Actively and meaningfully participate in discussions about museum and heritage issues on an academic and professional level in English;
  • Write a paper in professional English in accordance with academic standards.


Formative assessments

  • Weekly QAQR reports on the mandatory readings, consisting of:
    1. A core Quote;
    2. A brief summary of the main Argument;
    3. Questions/comments, and
    4. It’s Relevance to the main theme of the programme;
  • Podcast, in which you demonstrate a deep historical awareness in light of a popular historical narrative; In a podcast of about 15 minutes (max) you’ll discuss a national or regional popular historical narrative from your country or region of choice, and you link this narrative to a global history approach. When was the narrative constructed or written down? In what way have you been familiar with this story, and does a more ‘global’ approach to history change the meaning of this narrative? The podcast combines personal reflections (on your own historical education, national historical culture or memory), and awareness of the academic discussions on history (and memory) making.
  • Peer-review of two research papers of fellow students before submission.

Summative assessments

  • Oral exam in which you demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the key concepts, literature and issues discussed in term 1;
  • Research paper of 4000 words in which you critically reflect on current professional practices and instruments, in relation to issues of sustainability, inclusivity and/or digitality. The topic needs to be pre-approved with a view to safeguarding feasibility, standards and timely submission. The paper should include new primary data collected by personal research. This can be archival research, interview(s), social media study, (exhibition-) observations etc.

Entry requirements

No additional requirements.


You are required to actively participate in the lectures, discussions and seminars. This is best achieved by coming prepared, having thoroughly studied the required literature in advance of the lectures, by exploring relevant websites, and having watched prescribed videos or webinars.

You are to write a well-structured fully referenced paper about a topic of your choice, demonstrating a thorough understanding of the concepts, themes and literature discussed and a critical awareness of the ethical issues at stake In case you miss an excursion, you are expected to visit these institutions on your own and interview your fellow students on matters discussed at the institutions.


Judy Jaffe-Schagen (coordinator) , Paul Ariese, Hester Dibbits, Trilce Navarrete, Mirjam Shatanawi, Ruben Smit Edwin van der Veldt, Menno Welling.

Study Load

Credits: 14 ECT (392h)
      Lectures, seminars, field visits 96h
      Mandatory readings 182h
      Peer feedback 6h
      Research paper 44h
      10 QAQR reports 20h
      Oral exam 20h
      Podcast 14h
      Paper proposal 10h


A sample of literature used in the past.

  • Appiah, K., 2018. The Lies that Bind - Rethinking Identity. London: Profile Books. Read chapters Introduction and Classification (38 pp)
  • Appiah, K. 2009. “Whose Culture Is It, Anyway?” In Cultural Heritage Issues. The Legacy of Conquest, Colonization and Commerce, edited by Nafziger, J.A. and Nicgorski, A.M., 207-222. Leiden: Brill. (15 pp.)
  • Barrett, J. 2015. “Museums, Human Rights, and Universalism Reconsidered.” In Witcomb, A. and Message, K. (eds), The International Handbooks of Museum Studies. Volume 1: Museum Theory, Oxford: Wiley, 93-115. (22 pp)
  • Basu, P. (ed), 2017. “The Inbetweenness of Things.” In Basu, P. (ed). The Inbetweenness of Things: Materializing Mediation and Movement between Worlds, London: Bloomsbury, 1-20. (20 pp)
  • Bedford, L. The Art of Museum Exhibitions: How Story and Imagination Create Aesthetic Experiences, Routledge, 2014, chapter 6 ‘Working in the subjective mood’, pp. 91-128 (37 pp)
  • Berns, S. 2015. ‘Considering the glass case: Material encounters between museums, visitors and religious objects’. Journal of Material Culture, 21 (2): 153-168. (15 pp)
  • Buggeln, G. 2017. ‘Museum Architecture and the Sacred: Modes of Engagement’. In Religion in Museums: Global and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, edited by Gretchen Buggeln, Crispin Paine, and S. Brent Plate, 11–20. London: Bloomsbury.(9 pp)
  • Capurro, R. 2018. ‘Reinterpreting a sacred place. When a church becomes a museum.’ In Museology and the Sacred. Materials for a Discussion. Papers from the ICOFOM 41th Symposium Held in Tehran (Iran), 15-19 October 2018, edited by François Mairesse et al., 49-53. Paris: ICOFOM. (4 pp)
  • Chandler, E. ‘Reflections on Cripping the Arts in Canada’, Art Journal, 76:3-4 (2017) 56-59 (3 pp)
  • Cesari, C. di and Dimova, R., 2019. “Heritage, Gentrification, Participation: Remaking Urban Landscapes in the Name of Culture and Historic Preservation” International Journal of Heritage Studies, Vol.25, 9, 863-869. (4 pp)
  • Crispin, P. 2019. ‘Religions, 10, 656. (4 pp)
  • Dudley, S. H. 2012. “Encountering a Chinese horse: engaging with the thingness of things”. In Dudley, S. (ed). Museum Objects: Experiencing the Properties of Things, London: Routledge, 1-15. (14 pp)
  • Flinn, A., Community Histories, Community Archives: Some opportunities and some challenges.” Journal of the Society of Archivists, vol. 28.2, (October 2007) 151-176. (25 pp)
  • Gallo, J. 2010. ‘Doing Archival Research: How to Find a Needle in a Haystack’. In Research Confidential: Solutions to Problems Most Social Scientists Pretend They Never Have, edited by Eszter Hargittai, 262–86. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. (25 pp)
  • Geismar, H. 2018. Museum Object Lessons for the Digital Age. London: UCL Press. (read Chapter 2, 17 pp)
  • Gunn, W., Otto, T. and Smith, R., 2013. Design Anthropology: Theory and Practice. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. Introduction.
  • Harris, M., 2007. Ways of Knowing. New Approaches in the Anthropology of Experience and Learning New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books. 1-24 (23 pp)
  • Hoskins, J., 2006. “Agency, Biography and Objects.” In Rowlands, M., Tilley, C. and Spyer, P., (ed). Handbook of Material Culture. New York: Sage Publications. 74-84. (10 pp)
  • Hourston Hanks, L., Hale, J., MacLeod, S., ‘Introduction: Museum making: the place of narrative’, in: Suzanne MacLeod et. al. (eds.), Museum Making – Narratives, Architectures, Exhibitions. Oxford: Routledge, 2012, 19- 23 (4 pp)
  • Ingold, Tim, ‘Introduction’ in Anthropology and/as Education. Londo: Routledge. 2017.
  • Janes, R. R. and Richard, S. 2019. “Posterity Has Arrived: The Necessary Emergence of Museum Activism.” In Museum Activism, edited by Robert R. Janes and Richard Sandell, 1-21. London: Routledge, (22 pp)
  • Janev (2020) Ecosystem of Big Data. In Janev, et al., (Eds) Knowledge Graphs and Big Data Processing. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 12072. Springer, pp. 3-19.
  • Jarness, Vegard, Modes of Consumption: from ‘what’ to ‘how’ in cultural stratification research in Poetics. 53 (2015): 65-79.
  • Jones, S. 2010. ‘Negotiating Authentic Objects and Authentic Selves: Beyond the Deconstruction of Authenticity’. Journal of Material Culture 15 (2): 181–203. (22 pp)
  • Jouwe, N. and J. Tosh, ‘Introduction’, to, Amsterdam Slavery Heritage Guide
  • Lord, B. and Maria P. eds. 2014. Manual of Museum Exhibitions. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. (ch. 15 Preparing the exhibition brief)
  • Lorde, A. ‘There is no Hierarchy of Oppressions’, Homophobia and Education, New York: Council on Interracial Books for Children, 1983 (1 pp)
  • Malhi, Y. “The Concept of the Anthropocene”, Annual Review of Environment and Resources 42:1, 2017 p 77-104. (27 pp)
  • Meijer-van Mensch, L. and de Wildt, A. “AIDS Memorial Quilts.” In Die Musealisierung der Gegenwart. Von Grenzen und Chancen des Sammelns in Kulturhistorischen Museen edited by Sophie Elpers and Anna Palm, 87-106. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2014. (19 pp)
  • Mingus, M. ‘Changing the Framework: Disability Justice. How our communities can move beyond access to wholeness’ (2 pp)
  • Missonier, S. and Loufrani-Fedida, S., (2014). “Stakeholder analysis and engagement in projects: From stakeholder relational perspective to stakeholder relational ontology”. International Journal of Project Management, 32(7): 1108-1122. (14 pp)
  • Navarrete Hernandez, T. and Mackenzie Owen, J., 2016. “The Museum as Information Space. Metadata and Documentation.” In Borowiecki, J., (ed.), Cultural Heritage in a Changing World. Amsterdam: Springer. 111-123 (12 pp)
  • Navarrete Hernandez, T., 2016. Change in access to heritage after digitization: ethnographic collections in Wikipedia. In Cultural Trends. 25(4):233-248.
  • Sandals, L. ‘8 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Art and Disability’
  • Schavemaker, M. ‘Changing the Game Museum Research and the Politics of Inclusivity’, in: Kim Seong-Eun, Choi Jina, and Song Sujong eds. The Curatorial in Parallax, Seoul: National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) (2018), 89–105. (17 pp)
  • Schmidt-Lauber, B. 2012. “Seeing, Hearing, Feeling, Writing. Approaches and Methods from the Perspective of Ethnological Analysis of the Present”. In Bendix, R. and Hasan-Rokem, G., (eds). A Companion to Folklore, London: Wiley Blackwell, 559-78 (19 pp)
  • Spindler, E.A., ‘The history of Sustainability. The Origins and Effects of a Popular concept.’ In: I. Jenkins, R. Schröder (eds.), Sustainability in Tourism, Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien, 2013. 9-31 (21 pp)
  • The rise and impact of the ‘Instagram museum’ (2019) (including TED talk by Jia Jia Fei)
  • Tignor, R., Worlds Together, Worlds Apart. A History of the World (2017, 5th ed.). Introduction (Our Guiding Principles + Our Major Themes): 35 – 38 (3 pp)
  • Ünsal, D. 2019. ‘Positioning Museums Politically for Social Justice’. Museum Management and Curatorship 34 (6): 595–607. (12 pp)
  • Verschuren, P. and H. Doorewaard, Designing a research project. (Den Haag: Eleven, 2010)
  • Vrana et al., (2018) ‘A Networked Analysis of Museums on Instagram’. In Strategic Innovative Marketing and Tourism. 7 ICSIMAT proceedings.
  • Westermann, M. ‘What’s on at the New Rijks?’ Netherlands Yearbook for History of Art / Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek Online 65, no. 1 (2015): 22–53. (31 pp)
  • Winter, T. ‘Clarifying the critical in critical heritage studies’. International Journal of Heritage Studies, vol. 19, no. 6, 532-545. DOI 10.1080/13527258.2012.720997 (13 pp)
  • Zbuchea, A., & Bira, M. (2020).”Does Stakeholder Management Contribute to a Museum’s Sustainable Development?”. Management Dynamic in the Knowledge Economy. 8(1), 95-107. DOI 10.2478/mdke-2020-0007 (12 pp)