Professor Emma Waterton

Director of Academic Programs (Geography, Tourism and Planning)

Dr Emma Waterton with trees and the Female Orphan School in the background.Emma Waterton is Professor in the Geographies of Heritage at Western Sydney University. She was a Research Councils UK (RCUK) Academic Fellow at Keele University from 2006–2010 and a DECRA Fellow at WSU from 2012–2014. She has an established reputation in Australia and internationally as a leading heritage studies scholar, with a reputation that arises from three sustained contributions to the field: (1) conceptually-focused interventions that explore: (a) the idea of ‘heritage as discourse’ and (b) a re-theorisation of heritage in terms of emotion and affect; (2) engaging with innovative and experimental research methods; and (3) exploring the intersections between heritage and practices of social governance. These efforts are backed by extensive phases of fieldwork in the UK, Australia, Spain, the US, Nepal and Mongolia.

Emma has been a Chief Investigator on an ARC DECRA and ARC Discovery, and is currently working on an ARC Linkage with Associate Professor Denis Byrne, awarded in 2019. The Linkage Project aims to elucidate how recent migrants experience and interact with existing heritage places in Parramatta, and how they generate heritage places and attachments of their own. Capitalising on heritage-making theory, the project will advance knowledge, policy and practice by generating a new approach to the inclusion of migrants in the public field of heritage. The Project is a collaboration with the Office of Environment and Heritage and the Heritage Council of New South Wales.

In addition to the above, Emma has been working in the context of post-disaster Nepal, where, in collaboration with Dr Hayley Saul, she has been examining the way community constructions of heritage articulate (or not) with dominant/Western understandings. This seam of research has focused primarily on the Langtang Valley, located in the Himalaya northwest of Kathmandu, and explores the way heritage is encountered and represented in practice. A key outcome of this work has been the construction of the Langtang Heritage Trail, which was conceived and constructed in collaboration with the local community using participatory action research methods. Emma is author or editor of twenty-two books, including: Politics, Policy and the Discourses of Heritage in Britain (2010, Palgrave Macmillan); Heritage, Communities and Archaeology (co-authored with Laurajane Smith; 2009, Duckworth); and The Semiotics of Heritage Tourism (co-authored with Steve Watson; 2014, Channel View Publications). She has also authored over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and scholarly book chapters. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Landscape Research (2019-2023).


  • PhD, Heritage Studies, University of York, 2008
  • Master of Arts, Archaeological Heritage Management (Distinction), University of York, 2003
  • Bachelor of Arts, Double Anthropology Major, University of Queensland, 1999

Research Focus

  • Geographies of heritage: heritage, affect and emotion
  • Heritage and place-making
  • Community development in South Asia
  • Cultural landscapes
  • Memory and commemoration

Recent Awards and Recognition

  • 2020: Visiting Fellow, Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research
  • 2016−2019: Visiting Fellow, School of Business, York St. John University
  • 2016: LRG Anniversary Award (lead investigator, Landscapes of In/Justice at the Port Arthur Historic Site)
  • 2014-2016: ARC Discovery Grant (co-investigator, Australian Cultural Fields)
  • 2012-2014: ARC Discovery Early Career Research Grant
  • 2010: Internal Research Scheme Grants, Seed Grant for Early Career Researchers, University of Western Sydney
  • 2008–2010: British Academy Small Grant
  • 2006–2010: Research Councils United Kingdom (RCUK) Academic Fellow in History and Heritage
  • 2003–2006: Arts and Humanities Research Council Studentship, Doctoral Award
  • 2002–2003: University of York Masters Scholarship

Selected Publications

Waterton, E 2019, 'More-than-representational landscapes', in P Howard, I Thompson, E Waterton and M Atha (eds), The Routledge Companion to Landscape Studies, Routledge, London, pp. 123-133.

Waterton, E 2018, 'Curating affect: exploring the historical geography-heritage studies nexus at Sovereign Hill', Australian Geographer, vol. 49, no. 1, pp. 219-235.

Tolia-Kelly, D, Waterton, E & Watson, S (eds) 2017, Heritage, affect and emotion, Routledge, London.

Waterton, E 2014, 'More-than-representational heritage? The past and the politics of affect', Geography Compass, vol. 8, no. 11, pp. 823–33.

Waterton, E and Watson, S 2014, The semiotics of heritage tourism, Channel View Publications, Bristol.

Waterton, E & Dittmer, J 2014, 'The museum as assemblage: bringing forth affect at the Australian War Memorial Museum', Management and Curatorship, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 122–39.

Waterton, E & Watson, S 2013, 'Framing theory: towards a critical imagination in heritage studies', International Journal of Heritage Studies, vol. 19, no. 6, pp. 546–61.

Waterton, E 2010, Politics, policy and the discourses of heritage, Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire.

Waterton, E & Smith, L 2010, 'The recognition and the misrecognition of community heritage', International Journal of Heritage Studies, vol. 16, no. 1 & 2, pp. 4–15.

Smith, L & Waterton, E 2009, Heritage, communities and archaeology, Gerald Duckworth & Co, London.

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