Cultural Heritage and the Just City

Cultural heritage has been historically and persistently marginalised in strategies and policies across multiple scales of action. Because of this marginalization, scholars and advocates have long argued the need to pay more attention to culture and social capital in developing sustainable places. Cultural heritage is a social and cultural process that has much to add to the concept and practice of sustainable development. This is increasingly recognised in international frameworks for action, such as the New Urban Agenda or Sustainable Development Goals, which suggest particularly that the role of heritage in urban sustainability should be revisited.

This project looks at the lens that festivals can play in revealing how grand challenges around cultural heritage and urban sustainability land and resonate in different contexts? Our work contributes to this question through the compilation of an anthology of practices of festivals in settings in the Global North and South. The anthology is the product of a transdisciplinary research and practice network between social and natural scientists, arts and humanities scholars and cultural practitioners in the UK, Sweden, Amsterdam, Kenya and South Africa.

To find out more, contact Beth Perry.

News, events and blog

Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - 12:00 to 13:00
University of Cape Town, African Centre for Cities

Dr Rike Sitas, from the African Centre for Cities, will present the Whose Heritage Matters project during a 'brown bag' seminar at the University of Cape Town, followed by a discussion with scholars at the University, practitioners and city officials.  

Stakeholder Inception Meeting Kisumu
Friday, April 5, 2019 - 14:00 to 17:00
KLIP House, Kisumu

In April, during the set up visit in Kisumu, a stakeholder inception workshop will take place to enrol local organisations, officials and community based organisations into the project. 

The workshop will take place at KLIP House, in Central Kisumu.

British Academy Launch Information
Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - 09:00 to 16:00
British Academy, London

On 5 March the 27 funded projects from the British Academy Sustainable Development Programme will meet in London at the programme inception meeting. Professor Beth Perry, Dr Victoria Habermehl and Dr Patrick Hayombe will speak on behalf of the Whose Heritage Matters project to present the work in Kisumu and Cape Town. 

University of Cape Town
Monday, November 5, 2018 - 09:00 to Friday, November 9, 2018 - 13:45
Cape Town

Join us for the launch of the British Academy funded Whose Heritage Matters project, during the Mistra Urban Futures Realising Just Cities Conference, organised by the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town. 

A panel comprising scholars and creative practitioners from Gothenburg, Kisumu, Cape Town and Sheffield will discuss local work to explore the relationship between cultural heritage and just cities, before launching the new Whose Heritage Matters project. 

Talchum Festival

As cities in the global South urbanise at rapid rates and cities in the North face their own challenges, it is timely to think and experiment with new ways of thinking and acting in the cultural heritage and urban development sphere” says Mistra Urban Futures’ Beth Perry, Laura Ager and Rike Sitas in an article recently published by the International Journal of Herita

View of Cape Town

‘Comparative Co-production’ was the theme of the 2018 Mistra Urban Futures conference in Cape Town earlier this month, which was attended by members of the Urban Institute’s Realising Just Cities team.


New project announced from British Academy Sustainable Development Programme. 

Friday, June 29, 2018 - 09:30 to 16:30
Seminar room G14, 9 Mappin Street, The University of Sheffield

Musical groups and organisations shape and are shaped by their localities in a plurality of ways, reaching in and through communities to achieve tangible and intangible impacts. This one-day symposium,  hosted by the Urban Institute and the Sheffield Performer and Audience Research Centre, brings together academic and practitioner networks from across the arts, humanities and social sciences to ask:

Festivals are international cultural practices, taking plural forms and expressions across the world. They offer an empirical lens to enrich our understanding about how tangible and intangible cultural heritage combine, collide, conflict and cohere. Festivals are a spatially and temporally bounded public sphere, a break from normality that surfaces and reveals understandings of and approaches to culture and heritage in very different contexts.

The New Urban Agenda, signed in Quito Ecuador in 2016, calls for a broad and holistic understanding of the strategies and approaches needed to develop more sustainable urban transformations.