Professor Laurajane Smith

B.A.(hons), PhD Sydney; GradDip. HEd. UNSW.
Head, Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies
College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: 02 612 58162

Research interests

Key to Laurajane's interests is the understanding of heritage studies as an area of policy analysis and as a cultural process worthy of critical examination. Her work challenges the idea of heritage as primarily or simply an 'object' or 'site', and re-theorises heritage as a cultural process of meaning and memory making. More particularly, her research interests include understanding the way heritage is used as a cultural tool in the process of remembering, forgetting and identity construction; the re-theorisation of heritage; the politics of heritage; the interplay between class and heritage; multiculturalism and heritage representation; community heritage; heritage tourism and heritage public policy and the cultural politics of identity.


Laurajane works in the area of heritage studies, and is editor of the International Journal of Heritage Studies and series general editor with Professor William Logan of Key Issues in Cultural Heritage (Routledge). Prior to arriving at the ANU in 2010, she held the position of Reader in heritage studies at the University of York, UK, where she directed the MA in Cultural Heritage Management for nine years. Originally from Sydney, she taught Indigenous Studies at the University of New South Wales (1995-2000), and heritage and archaeology at Charles Sturt University (1990-1995). She also worked as a heritage consultant in south-eastern Australia during the 1980s.

Researcher's projects

Cultural heritage and the mediation of identity, memory and historical narratives (ARC Future Fellowship 2010-2014). The aim of this work was to document the way museum exhibitions and heritage sites are used to construct and negotiate social and cultural values and meanings. It is accepted that museum and heritage site audiences are not simply passive receptors of the curator's or interpreter's messages, but how audiences actually engage with exhibitions and heritages and what they do with the messages they take away is neither documented or understood. By charting and comparing the way heritage is used by heritage professionals, community groups and audiences in Australia, USA and England, the project will reveal the cultural and social 'work' that heritage does in society. Laurajane is currently wiring up this research as a book contracted to Routledge.

1807 Commemorated 2007-9 (AHRC Knowledge Transfer Fellowship, UK). The central aim of the 1807 Commemorated project was to both map and analyse the responses of museums and their audiences to the 2007 bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade act of 1807. Publications from this project are still underway, up dates and outcomes from this project can be found on the project's main web site and the resource website funded by the Museums Libraries and Archive Council (MLA), UK.

Heritage and memory in Castleford, West Yorkshire (British Academy funded). This project documented the ways in which collective memories of work and place were renegotiated using discourses of 'heritage' in the context of deindustrialization and community regeneration. Laurajane is in the process of writing up aspects of this research. For more information about Castleford heritage, see Castleford Heritage Trust web site.


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  04 October 2022 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers