Associate Members

Colin Sterling

© Colin Sterling

My research focuses on critical-creative approaches to heritage, memory and museums. I am interested in how artists, designers, curators, architects, writers and other creative practitioners engage with museums and heritage as spaces of critical enquiry. My time at CARMAH formed part of a two-year research project  on these themes titled New Trajectories in Curatorial Experience Design (2019-2021). This research asks how emerging approaches to immersive and experiential design might contribute towards critical heritage thinking and practice. To this end, my time in Berlin was spent exploring various ‘immersive’ installations and exhibitions, and interviewing key practitioners in the city who produce such experiences.

From 2017 to 2019 I held a post-doctoral position on the AHRC Heritage Priority Area project, led by Rodney Harrison and based at the UCL Institute of Archaeology. My work on this project focused on the implications of posthumanist thinking and the Anthropocene for the heritage field. An edited volume on these themes is now forthcoming from Open Humanities Press titled Deterritorializing the Future: Heritage in, of and after the Anthropocene. This will be followed by a short book co-authored with Harrison provisionally titled Heritage in More-than-human Worlds. In May 2020 we also launched an international design and ideas competition called Reimagining Museums for Climate Action to help push forward speculative and creative thinking on these issues.

As a Visiting Fellow at CARMAH I was able to spend some time thinking about how these two major research pathways intersect. This will be explored in a forthcoming book chapter: ‘Experiencing the Anthropocene: The Contested Heritage of Climate Breakdown’. I am now looking to develop further research related to memory, museums and climate action, as viewed through the lens of critical heritage and the posthumanities.

Across all of this work I maintain a close connection to heritage and museums practice. This builds on my time as a heritage consultant specialising in curatorial planning, audience research and interpretation, and as a Project Curator at the Royal Institute of British Architects. My first book, Heritage, Photography, and the Affective Past, draws together this applied experience with original archival and ethnographic research undertaken as part of my PhD.

I am grateful to the Arts and Humanities Research Council for sponsoring my research time in Berlin.