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Dr Susan Ashley

Associate Professor

Department: Arts

Susan Ashley is Senior Lecture 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 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


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 2021. 


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 also a member of the Northumbria University Visual and Material Culture research group.

Susan Ashley


  • Cultural Studies PhD June 30 2011
  • Fellow (FHEA) Higher Education Academy (HEA) 2015

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • A Museum in Public, Ashley, S. 20 Aug 2019
  • Introduction: Critical Heritage Studies in Canada, Ashley, S., Terry, A. 2018, In: Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d'etudes canadiennes
  • Recognition and repentance in Canadian multicultural heritage, Gordon-Walker, C., Alvarez Hernandez, A., Ashley, S. 2018, In: Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d'etudes canadiennes
  • Introduction, Ashley, S., Frank, S. 8 Aug 2016, In: International Journal of Heritage Studies
  • Acts of Heritage, Acts of Value: Memorializing at the Chattri Indian Memorial, UK, Ashley, S. 4 Apr 2016, In: International Journal of Heritage Studies
  • The Royal Ontario Museum, the Dead Sea Scrolls and critical public engagement, Ashley, S. 3 Oct 2016, Museums and the Past: Constructing Historical Consciousness, University of British Columbia Press
  • Museum-making: ‘New’ Canadians reimagine heritage and citizenship, Ashley, S. Oct 2016, Representation and Citizenship, Detroit, Wayne State University Press
  • Re-colonizing spaces of memorializing: the case of the Chattri Indian Memorial, UK, Ashley, S. 22 Dec 2015, In: Organization: the Critical Journal of Organization, Theory and Society
  • ‘Engage the World’: examining conflicts of engagement in public museums, Ashley, S. May 2014, In: International Journal of Cultural Policy
  • A museum of our own, Ashley, S. Jul 2014, Museums and Migration: History, Memory and Politics, London, Taylor & Francis

PGR Supervision

  • Frances Guy Start: 01/10/2016
  • Leonie Wieser History-making in an unequal present: Three perspectives on migration pasts in the North East of England Start: 07/10/2014
  • Kathleen Boodhai Start: 01/10/2017
  • Joan Buchanan Valorising Cornish minority heritage: UNESCO and Performative Heritage Start: 01/10/2016

Current and Recent Projects

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • (Multi)Cultural Heritage: New Perspectives on Public Culture, Identity and Citizenship, Ashley, S., Arts & Humanities Research Council, 12/06/17 - 11/06/19, £173,548.00
  • Memorializing as valuation: Examining public culture at the Chattri Sikh Memorial, Brighton, Ashley, S., Arts & Humanities Research Council, 02/09/13 - 31/05/14, £29,577.00
  • (Multi)Cultural organisational Archives, Ashley, S., Arts & Humanities Research Council, 01/05/20 - 30/04/21, 0.0

Research Themes and Scholarly 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.

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