Feminist science and speculative fiction authors, film-makers, musicians and artists have recognized that any vision of a future that has eradicated prejudice is such a far leap from the everyday reality of every corner of the world, it can only be a flight of fiction, a story of a future just beyond our grasp, unless we are committed to finding more just transitions and transformations.

Whose Heritage Matters is concerned with how cultural heritage can be leveraged in this future imagining, by drawing on the past and present in creative ways.  

In October 2019 team members from Cape Town, Kisumu and Sheffield met in order to feedback initial results from framing interviews and plan work for the coming year. The workshop offered opportunities to provide interview feedback, develop comparative emergent themes, and decide next steps. Importantly the time frame of this project reflects the needs of a set of researchers embedded in different contexts, positions and places. Following these differentiations, a long project set up was organised from the outset.

By Vicky Habermehl, Urban Institute, University of Sheffield 

In April 2019 the inception meetings for the project started with a series of visits across the Kisumu region. These were organised with communities in different cultural heritage and sacred sites. At each meeting organisers, communities or elders took the group around the site and discussed the key concerns, and organising strategies, as well as future plans. This provided a context for cultural heritage in the area, as well as meeting potential research partners and allowing for broader understandings of different cultural heritage challenges across the region.

By Beth Perry, Urban Institute, University of Sheffield 

The baking Kisumu heat on a Friday afternoon was not enough to deter people from attending our first stakeholder meeting in Kisumu, on 5 April 2019. Held at KLIP House in central Kisumu, it was standing room only as 46 people joined for a collaborative workshop to map different understandings and meanings of cultural heritage.

By Rike Sitas, African Centre for Cities 

The potential of art, culture and heritage in shaping our cities has captured the imagination of artists, officials, developers and activists alike. Heritage has found its place in local and global policies, in urban plans, in precinct development, in the visual and performing arts, in tourism and heritage-based place making. Although there is a general agreement that heritage is important, what this means is less clear. In particular, how this lands in different contexts can run the risk of creating or exacerbating existing tensions.

By Beth Perry, Urban Institute, University of Sheffield

The 'Whose Heritage Matters?' project had its first project meeting and formal launch in Cape Town in November 2018.