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Personal profile


Susan Ashley is Associate Professor in the MA programme Creative and Cultural Industries Management. She is a cultural studies scholar interested in the democratisation of public culture, with a focus on black and minority ethnic activism in culture and heritage.


She is currently PI for a NCACE National Centre for Academic and Cultural Change project "HERE North East Cultural Hub and Archive", co-produced with community-led North East Steering Group. She has just completed a National Archives Testbed project plus the AHRC project "(Multi)Cultural Organisational Archives", and past AHRC Leadership Fellow for "(Multi)Cultural Heritage: New Perspectives on Public Culture, Identity and Citizenship". See the website https://research.northumbria.ac.uk/multiCulturalheritage/

Black Lives Matter - this must be front of mind in our research and teaching.

Dr Ashley holds a PhD in Communication and Culture from York University, Toronto. Her research on heritage and its relation to subjectivity, representation and citizenship has been published in books by Routledge and Ashgate, and in peer-reviewed journals such as Organization, International Journal of Cultural Policy, Museum & Society and International Journal of Heritage Studies. Her monograph "A Museum in Public: Revisioning Canada’s Royal Ontario Museum" was published by Routledge in 2019. She also edited "Diverse Spaces: Identity, Heritage and Community in Canadian Public Culture" (2013).  Her latest book, co-edited with Degna Stone, is "Whose Heritage? Challenging Race and Identity in Stuart Hall’s Post-nation Britain" to be published by Routledge in 2022. In development for 2023 is her monograph "For, With, By: Decolonising Heritage Research".


Dr. Ashley also has 20 years of consultancy and government work coordinating projects for culture and heritage sites across Canada. This work included policy, planning and developments related to heritage commemorations, disabled access, and diverse events, media and programs. She also has a background in journalism editing, writing and production for several community newspapers in Canada.


Dr Ashley is a member of the Northumbria University Visual and Material Culture research group.

Research interests

My current research has two major themes, both aimed at the democratisation of public culture; promoting social equality by challenging and improving cultural institutional practices, and contributing to social justice in relation to challenges of neoliberalism, globalisation and migration. My recent funding awards in the UK and Canada have contributed to this research. Themes are:

  • Critically examining the theoretical and political underpinnings of the concept of ‘heritage’ and its impacts on public culture as institutionalised and as performed.
  • Understanding, through collaborative research methodologies, the ways that black and ethnic minorities make sense of and assert their ideas about heritage, identity and belonging within national narratives and social conditions.

Education/Academic qualification

Cultural Studies, PhD, York University Toronto

30 Sep 200530 Jun 2011

Award Date: 30 Jun 2011

External positions

Association for Critical Heritage Studies


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