Global Urban Research Unit


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

This project explores relationships between young people and built heritage as they are talked about, and acted out, through activities such as skateboarding, BMXing and freerunning.

A cultural studies approach will be adopted as a means of exploring the agency of place within the way young people build associations and communicate with others. We will explore the way in which inter-generational meaning is communicated within (sub) cultural movements such as skating as well as the way in which that meaning is conveyed to those outside these movements.

By working across disciplines, and drawing on expertise from Newcastle University, The University of Sussex, The University of East Anglia and The University of Glasgow the project will document the means by which young people have organised politically to protect their cultural heritage from forces of privatisation and gentrification. This understanding will be matched with a corresponding analysis of dominant and institutionalised conceptions of heritage to promote reflection on the social processes that govern the way the past is constructed and carried forward for future generations.

The outcome of the project will be a workshop, report and web resource for heritage organisations. Our case study is the campaign to save the skate spot in the South Bank Centre's undercroft in Lambeth and, by focusing on this, we intend to add our voice to the call for greater recognition of youth voices in the conservation movement: the title of our project calls attention to the explicit use of heritage in one of their campaign slogans.