SOAS University of London


Heritage of humanity

Centenary research theme

Heritage can be conceived as conserving, preserving and interpreting our history – whether in the form of art, architecture, music, text or memory.  

At the same time, heritage can be conceived of as making sure that the rich physical and cultural diversity of the present is handed on to future generations, whether in terms of endangered languages, hidden archives, or rich and diverse cultures around food.  

While ‘heritage’ itself can be critiqued as a ‘western’ concept, SOAS' approach to art and heritage together defined by seeing the world through a different lens, in which artistic and cultural linkages are, and always have been multidirectional.  

Promoting intercultural understanding through the arts

Sculptures featured in the international exhibition, ‘Central Nigeria Unmasked

SOAS research across many disciplines brings to a global audience art forms which might otherwise remain little-known outside their own communities, promoting cultural links and understanding worldwide. Read more...

Reasserting the value of labour and craft

Fine woodwork instructor and trainees, Building Crafts College, London

Through his fieldwork with builder-craftspeople in Yemen and Mali and fine woodwork trainees in East London, Trevor Marchand has developed a profound understanding of the nature of apprenticeship and the importance of learning and preserving manual skills.  Professor Marchand has worked with UK craftspeople, architects and educationalists to advocate for crafts as key elements of the creative industries, contributing not only to the nation’s economy, but to its social and cultural life. Read more...

Novel theories challenge conventional understanding of Chinese art history

Dr Lukas Nickel’s archaeological fieldwork, art historical research and philological study have led to his proposition of novel theories that question the conventional wisdom surrounding the influences on, methods of production and historical-contextual details of key genres and elements of the Chinese art historical canon, including the famous Terracotta Warriors. Both in China and internationally, his theories have motivated debate, experimentation, and informed and shifted interpretation amongst those working in a range of cultural institutions as well as the general public. Read more...

From scholarly historical research to prize-winning popular fiction

The scholarship of Professor Tim Screech on Japanese history, art and culture inspired and informed a David Mitchell's award winning novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, set in Japan in the late 1700s. Mitchell said: “He is the kind of academic interpreter of history and ideas upon whom more popular interpreters (lower down the food chain) rely… making accessible to interested non-specialists (like me), via primary research, areas of Japanese and East Asian culture which would otherwise lie buried.' Read more...