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Dr Carmen Granito

Honorary Fellow


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Honorary Fellow in the Department of Anthropology  



I have a multi-disciplinary background in Philosophy (BA hons., Napoli), Semiotics (MA dist., Bologna), Heritage Management (MA dist., Kent/Athens), and Social Research Methods (PG Cert., Durham). I have completed my ESRC-funded PhD at Durham Univ. (UK) investigating the effects of cultural contact on symbols, rock art signs and emoji. My thesis passed with no corrections.

In parallel, I have been working as a consultant and researcher in the culture and heritage sector internationally, specialising in heritage branding and interpretation. I spent 7 years as a Research Associate and later Head of R&D of the international London-based branding consultancy The Seeking State (clients include M+ Hong Kong, Glyndebourne Opera House, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Turner Contemporary). In parallel, I have run projects on heritage interpretation, content strategy, exhibition design and community engagement in sites such as Beamish Museum (UK), Napoli Royal Palace (Italy), Gran Paradiso National Park (Italy).

I am Research Coordinator of Interpret Europe, the European association of heritage interpretation, and I collaborate with ICOMOS Italy in research projects on heritage interpretation practices.

In 2022 I set up The Story Behind - Heritage Brands & Content, a consultancy that helps heritage places interpret meanings, design relevance and inspire change for people, communities and society.

Research Projects and Interests

Why do different eras and different peoples represent the world in pictures in such different ways? How have different cultures negotiated meanings and used different visual conventions to tell their stories through pictures? The “riddle of style” is a longstanding question in art history, archaeology and anthropology. My research investigates how factors such as demography, intercultural exchanges and social structure can shape styles of representation in the arts and graphics.

To this end, I draw on the cutting-edge methods of cultural evolution, including lab experiments and quantitative analyses of archaeological, art-historical, and ethnographic datasets.

Inspired by the idea that “Painting is to those who cannot read what letters are to those who can” (Gregory the Great), I am also interested in the dynamics of evolutionary change in verbal languages, writing and graphic systems in general.

I apply this research in my consultancy work for the cultural heritage sector. I aim to push the boundaries of branding, storytelling and interpretation for heritage places and communities through cognitive and social research. The driving questions:

  • How can we help communities negotiate meanings and express them in verbal and visual representations to create participatory and inclusive heritage brand identities?
  • How can we tell the stories of heritage with words and pictures that fulfil both the cognitive and emotional needs of culturally and socially diverse groups?
  • How can we maximise the impact of verbal and visual stories on value sets and behaviours and fulfil the activist mission of heritage?


Research groups