South Asian heritage sites, particularly pilgrimage destinations, are critical social and economic assets but they face increasing threats from environmental hazards such as earthquakes, conflict and rising visitor numbers. Working with UNESCO, Durham University has up-scaled its previous research through the award of a UNESCO Chair, Robin Coningham in November 2014. Professor Robin Coningham and this team work with UNESCO, the government of Nepal, and local heritage organisations to:
(i) assist local practitioners in balancing the safeguarding and stewardship of cityscapes and landscapes in Nepal and Sri Lanka by making them both accessible and resilient;
(ii) co-produce professional policies and best practice for post-disaster and post-conflict heritage protection, and;
(iii) share specialist knowledge and strengthen capacity with local communities.
For the last ten years Durham Archaeology has provided specialised training in forensic anthropological and archaeological skills for UK and international practitioners directly involved in human identification contexts. This research-led training provides a direct conduit for the transmission of cutting-edge scientific research to stakeholders. Professor Rebecca Gowland and her collaborators work with international NGOs to advance procedural efficiency, maximise evidence retrieval and improve identification at a range of crime and humanitarian contexts across the world (80+ countries). Professor Gowland also works with human rights lawyers to provide expert representation for families of the missing in Chechnya, and mother and baby homes in Ireland.
Responding to instability across North Africa since the Arab Spring, Durham University has mobilised research into the iconic ancient cities and rural hinterlands of Libya and Tunisia in a unique on-the-ground campaign of co-productive research and training with all four Departments of Antiquities in both countries. Working in collaboration with government and international agencies, the Partnerships for Action project has: enfranchised regional heritage and law enforcement agencies to better safeguard vulnerable and neglected post-Roman heritage; made tangible changes to recording and protection strategies; co-produced heritage-protection tool-kits endorsed by government and international agencies; and fostered new professional structures.