Professor Laurajane Smith has been awarded the 2021 European Archaeological Heritage Prize by the European Association of Archaeologists. She was awarded for having created the foundations for a new approach to research and dissemination of cultural heritage, for her fundamental and lasting contribution to the development of Critical Heritage Studies, and for having founded the Association of Critical Heritage Studies.
The Association made the announcement below upon awarding the Prize to Professor Smith.
Laurajane Smith has played a pioneering role in Critical Heritage Studies and made innovative and fundamental contributions to research in this field, turning her interest to heritage as a performative practice. This has led us to go beyond simple questions related to the conservation and management of heritage and instead to question its use, and sometimes abuse, by segments of society, and its re-formulation in order to claim new meanings for the past and to propose new visions for the future.
Through the exercise of hegemony over heritage (what Laurajane Smith labelled the ‘Authorised Heritage Discourse’), social groups and entire communities are being discriminated against, marginalized and even excluded from the official recognition of heritage. More recently, Laurajane Smith has investigated the role of emotions in the approach to heritage, and she has worked with Indigenous, female and Afro-Caribbean communities as well as industrial and working-class heritage.
In addition to her research activity, Laurajane Smith has also played a fundamental role in creating a new network of scholars and activists in the field of heritage, founding the Association of Critical Heritage Studies to which she has brought her commitment and her undisputed leadership and going on to edit the high-profile International Journal of Heritage Studies.
About the Prize
The European Association of Archaeologists instituted the European Archaeological Heritage Prize in 1999. An independent Committee awards the Prize annually for an outstanding contribution to the generation of archaeological heritage knowledge and its dissemination, and to the protection, presentation and enhancement of the European archaeological heritage.