Ethics of Digital Heritage and a Royal Visit

This article was originally published on the blog run by the students of the MA Program in Cultural Heritage Management at Durham University.

Back in February, we had a bit of a respite after the flurry of deadlines for the new year. Although we didn’t have any lecture for the Dissertation module, a number of us met up with Andreas Pantazatos, the lecturer of our Ethics of Cultural Heritage module last term, for our first reading group meeting.

Andreas led the session, with an article on the ethics of digital heritage, raising issues such as accountability and authenticity in an increasingly digital world. We also considered the nature of digital copies as things in themselves, and the role of original objects if a perfect digital copy exists. These points raised some important questions about the future of museum displays and management of heritage sites, issues we will no doubt encounter in our graduate careers! It was a very stimulating discussion, and we all enjoyed the opportunity to get stuck back into some of the ethical issues surrounding cultural heritage. We very much look forward to our further sessions later in the term!

The first session of our Ethics of Cultural Heritage Reading Group. Image: Mary Brooks

The half of the class who did not present their material delivered their scenario analysis work-in-progress. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend this second round of presentations because I was participating in an intangible cultural heritage event at Durham Cathedral, performing with Durham University Choral Society (and others) for the visit of His Royal Highness Prince Charles.

It was an incredible experience singing in the Cathedral, and the power of the sound of two hundred and fifty performers, heightened by the presence of a member of the royal family, made me reflect on the history and ongoing significance of performing music in that space. It really brought home the powerful co-existence of tangible and intangible heritage in the Durham World Heritage Site, a reminder of the difficulty of separating these two aspects of heritage. It was a very special experience, and I was very glad of the opportunity!

Outside the Cathedral, following the performance for HRH Prince Charles Image: Mary Brooks


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