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Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Core Executive

Professor Robin Coningham:

Professor Robin Coningham holds UNESCO’s 2014 Chair in Archaeological Ethics and Practice in Cultural Heritage in the Department of Archaeology and is Associate Director of IMEMS with responsibility for Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. Robin is an archaeologist with over thirty years of field experience and is particularly interested in the study, protection and management of South Asia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, many of which are pilgrimage site. In addition to holding UNESCO’s Chair in Archaeological Ethics and Practice in Cultural Heritage, he has participated in over thirty UNESCO missions and is the Archaeology Advisor to UNESCO’s International Scientific Committee for Lumbini (Nepal), Birthplace of the Lord Buddha. With funding from the Japanese-Funds-in-Trust-for-UNESCO, he co-directs UNESCO archaeological investigations within the Greater Lumbini Area and led the UNESCO Chair’s post-disaster team to Kathmandu after the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake with support from UNESCO, AHRC’s Global Challenges Research Fund and the British Academy’s Global Challenges Research Fund ‘Cities and Infrastructure Programme’.

Robin’s portfolio as Associate Director (World Heritage) is focused on:

  • Disseminating the existing Research Strategy for the Durham World Heritage;
  • Updating the Research Strategy at appropriate intervals;
  • Taking forward key initiatives identified in the Research Strategy with a view to developing grant-funded research projects led by IMEMS;
  • Working with colleagues across all three faculties, as well as the University Museums, in order to foster and, where appropriate, initiate research projects focusing on the Durham World Heritage Site, leading to applications for external research funding and research outputs;
  • Co-ordinating research workshops and conferences at Durham dealing with the Durham World Heritage Site and related topics;
  • Representing IMEMS and the University ex officio on the Durham World Heritage Site Research Sub-committee;
  • Working with the Durham World Heritage Site Co-ordinator and Institute Administrator in order to bring relevant research outcomes to a wider public and develop associated impact activities.

While respecting such broad ambitions for his post, IMEMS’ Executive team has agreed that Robin should pursue an initial agenda which aims to meet one of the more neglected areas of Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, ‘Understanding the WHS today’. Identified as Key Research Priority 1 within Durham’s 2015 World Heritage Site Research Framework, the World Heritage Site is recognised as the centre of a living community but that there was a need to examine how its disparate groups and individuals react and engage differently with the landscape and buildings. It also acknowledged that the nature of the site brings practical management and conservation challenges with clear scope to bringing together researchers and practitioners in Durham to engage, map and research Durham’s contemporary context in addition to its historic fabric.

If you are interested in contributing to this agenda, please contact Robin directly at

Professor Barbara Ravelhofer:

Barbara Ravelhofer is Professor in the Department of English Studies and Associate Director of IMEMS with responsibility for Research.

Barbara has over twenty years’ experience in medieval and early modern studies across Europe, with particular emphasis on literature, theatre, music and early dance, and the visual arts. She has worked in Germany, Italy, and the United States, and managed large international projects. Currently, she is leading on Records of Early English Drama North-East (AHRC, Arts Council England, and Canadian sponsors), which uncovers the performance history of England’s North with live productions, concerts, and compendious atlases of dramatic records.

Performance is an essential part of the intangible heritage of Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. At IMEMS, we support the study and research-led practice of music, theatre, ceremony, and popular entertainment, from Late Antiquity to the late eighteenth century. In particular, we promote Durham’s intangible dramatic heritage and connect regional traditions with forms of dance, music, and spectacle across the world.

What can IMEMS do for you?

Barbara’s portfolio as IMEMS Associate Director (Research)

  • mapping the research interests of IMEMS members and colleagues across all three Faculties, University Museums and Collections, and identifying synergies
  • fostering collaborative and interdisciplinary research projects and outcomes such as publications or productions
  • developing, or supporting, external funding applications (for instance, by providing peer review and other intellectual support)
  • help with Impact Case Studies
  • maintaining and developing the Institute’s international research links and partnerships
  • acting as advisor for the Medieval and Early Modern Student Association (MEMSA) and for undergraduates and postgraduates interested in IMEMS more generally

Please contact Barbara if you have any queries or if you would like some support in any of the above areas.