Online Urban Heritage

The social-cultural impact of participative heritage websites

On the Internet, we can find many initiatives focused on the heritage of cities. This varies from Facebook groups with a historic focus to local city blogs and memory websites. Furthermore, heritage organisations increasingly use online media to crowdsource material related to the urban past. Such participatory heritage websites give access to the past of cities and enhance the public’s engagement with urban heritage.

This project studies how these participatory heritage websites are used, examine their sociocultural impact, and explores under which conditions they work best. Furthermore, I assess what the content of these websites tells us about the ways in which people experience urban heritage in their everyday lives. To this end, I use a media studies perspective to contribute to the emerging literature on historic urban landscapes.

Historic layers of cities

In 2011, UNESCO adopted the Recommendation on the Historic Urban landscape. In this new approach to urban heritage, there is a growing attention to the ways in which urban communities give shape to the historic layering of urban landscapes. Furthermore, this approach seeks to actively involve citizens in urban conservation. My project demonstrates how participatory heritage websites can be used to achieve this objective.

This project is funded by the The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), as part of the KIEM programme. This funding schema aims to encourage and facilitate public-private partnerships in the domain of the Creative industries. Partners in this project are Het Nieuwe Instituut and the DEN Foundation (knowledge centre for digital culture). The project runs between June 2017 and June 2018. It builds on a symposium about online urban remembering that I organized in 2016. 

About the impact of the project


  • dr. (Arno) AJC van der Hoeven

    dr. (Arno) AJC van der Hoeven

    Arno van der Hoeven is Assistant Professor in the department of Media & Communication at Erasmus University Rotterdam. He teaches courses about media theory…

Funding and partners

  • Funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research.

  • Het Nieuwe Instituut

  • DEN Foundation

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