School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Youth and Heritage

You Can't Move History. You Can Secure the Future. Engaging Youth in Cultural Heritage

Projects Dates: December 2014 - January 2016
Funder and amount: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) £43,320
School Contact: Dr David Webb (Co-investigator)
Partner(s): University of Sussex (Lead); BrazenBunch (Project Partner); The Heritage Lottery Fund (Project Partner)
How we got involved: AHRC sandpit exercise aimed at early career academics

You Can't Move History. You Can Secure the Future is a tag line used by the Long Live South Bank (LLSB) campaign to encapsulate a distinctive heritage claim aimed at retaining the informal skate spot in the Undercroft on London's South Bank.

The campaign provides the basis for a critical investigation of young people's involvement in heritage issues with the aim of learning how we can promote a positive approach to a more plural conceptualisation of heritage. Until now, the involvement of youth in heritage debates has typically been as part of a rhetorical strategy that serves to speak for them as future stakeholders; as in 'we are preserving the heritage for future generations'. The ongoing LLSB campaign, however, demonstrates young people as highly engaged political subjects capable of defining their own heritages as part of their own claims to urban space.

Employing expertise across the fields of History, Town Planning, Media Studies and Sociology, this project analysed the long-running and ongoing political, economic and cultural struggles over the use and significance of the Southbank site. The project team worked with the youth filmmaking collective Brazen Bunch to record walking interviews and oral histories with LLSB, Coin Street Community Builders and the Twentieth Century Society. The team engaged with a range of other stakeholders including BMX bikers, photographers and graffiti artists.

This material was analysed alongside LLSB campaign documents and films; official and alternative plans and planning documents; and print media and film archives. The footage was edited, with the Brazen Bunch filmmakers, into a short film by Winstan Whitter.  

You Can’t Move History won Best Research Film of the Year in the 2016 Arts and Humanities Research Council 'Research in Film Awards'.

More details can be found on the project website youthandheritage.com.

You Cant Move History
Credit: Katya Ochagavia
You Can't Move History: Film by Winstan Whitter