‘Let’s find out’: the historian laureate and participatory heritage discovery

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review


Developing modes of engagement in the construction of public heritage knowledge emphasize participatory media and active collaboration with citizens. The City of Edmonton created the first historian laureate position in Canada in 2010, and related programs are still rare. This article considers the interaction of narrative content with social and technological contexts of production, viewing the role of the historian laureate as amateur historian and professional storyteller. The historian laureate operates primarily in accessible contexts of leisure, mediated in part through digital technologies, and can respond relatively directly to community interests as a heritage coordinator rather than expert. Rather than representing oppositional or disruptive power to official heritage discourses, the project enables the production of ‘small heritages’ through a series of story episodes. These stories focus on events, people, places and artifacts that typically fall outside the meta-narratives and monuments of a city’s heritage landscape. The historian laureate, embodying or articulating local experience in ways amenable to leisure activity, demonstrates capacities to produce largely indeterminate, diverse and porous ideas of place and histories as part of a bottom-up social generation of knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)582-595
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun. 2019


  • Digital heritage
  • intangible heritage
  • leisure
  • participatory media
  • small heritages


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