Hi there! My name is Vivian. I have a BA in Anthropology and an MA in Museum Studies, both from the University of Florida. When I first started this blog in 2012 I was working on my MA in Museum Studies. Now, I am returning to this blog as a PhD student in Applied Anthropology at the University of South Florida.
I am a native Floridian, but am first-generation American, with German-American parents. My own heritage ties me to Germany, and Europe as a whole, pretty tightly. I have had the fortunate opportunity to do a lot of traveling with my family, which no doubt influenced my early interest in the field of Anthropology.
In 2012, I interned for eight weeks with The Churches Conservation Trust, an organization I found pretty much by accident. I was on a website for international museum jobs and the CCT has posted an ad for a development officer. I clicked and clicked and clicked further and ended up on their internships page. I emailed one person who forwarded me to Dr. Rushton who emailed me back and said they actually did have a project they could use me for. The entire process was serendipitous. I helped out on several projects and learned about work in the heritage sector in the UK. I brought that knowledge back to Florida and finished my MA with a project-in-lieu of thesis titled: Reading Between the Layers: Exploring Wall Paintings in Our Medieval Parish Churches – An Interpretation Plan for the Churches Conservation Trust.
In 2014, I started working on my PhD in Applied Cultural Anthropology, with a focus in Heritage Studies, at USF. My aim was to expand on my MA in Museum Studies and get back to my Anthropology roots. Now, with my coursework complete, I will be embarking on my dissertation fieldwork in England at two heritage sites: Tintagel Castle in Cornwall and Glastonbury in Somerset.
It is widely accepted that heritage and the past are invoked to (re)produce and (re)enforce contemporary national identities. For my dissertation research I will be exploring how heritage and heritage sites perpetuate particular authorized discourses of Englishness and/or Britishness in contemporary, multicultural Britain. By understanding how the heritage sector works to create the current discourses, policy change suggestions can be made to make the national heritage more inclusive and representative of today’s Britain. In a post-Brexit, Trump-President-Elect reality, the rising backlash against multiculturalism can and should be fought. I believe that while heritage is often used to re(produce) nationalistic views, it can also be used to fight xenophobia and promote diversity.