Dr Jenna Ashton

Lecturer in Heritage Studies

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email: Jenna.Ashton@manchester.ac.uk

As Programme Director of Heritage Studies at University of Manchester, I am an experienced researcher, writer, curator in contemporary heritage practice and theory, regularly contributing to and leading national and international arts and heritage programming, publications and exhibitions. Other roles include curatorial research advisor to the development of the museums practice around memory, peace and human rights in Kosovo, and Advisor to the National Trust North Regional Board.

I have a broad knowledge and practical application of contemporary heritage theory, policy and management across international contexts, and a depth of understanding regarding issues of social justice, inclusion, and participation. My research works across disciplines of arts, heritage, anthropology and human geography, collaborating with artists, networks and galleries, to grassroots activist collectives, communities and NGOs.

Projects contribute an innovative interdisciplinary programme of collaborative research, exploring the role of the arts and heritage in addressing global challenges such as social inequalities, displacement and conflict, health and ageing, and environmental resources.

My work consistently focuses on spatial access and agency – whether that is in museums and galleries, urban sites, or green and blue landscapes. I am a core member of the national Artists in Landscape and Environment Research Group, initiated by NERC. As a Co-I on the large interdisciplinary project "Green Infrastructure and the Health and Wellbeing Influences on an Ageing Population (GHIA)", funded by NERC/ESRC/AHRC, £2016-19, I lead research on the social value of natural heritage and participatory research methods. Research project partners include Canal and River Trust, City of Trees, MCC Green Infrastructure Strategy and Whitworth Gallery Cultural Park.

I am the appointed research consultant evaluating the National Trust’s Women and Power 2018 programme (completion of report March 2019), which focuses on the relevance and resonance of contemporary programming to audiences.

Additionally, I am Creative Director and Founder of Digital Women’s Archive North [DWAN], a Manchester based feminist arts and heritage organisation supporting women's arts and heritage practice, and addressing social inequalities. [DWAN] is currently leading The Travelling Heritage Bureau, a co- research project and supportive network with and for women artists, including women who have fled threat from war, persecution or disasters, women who have sought out greater creative freedom, women born in the UK to migrant communities, and women from the European economic communities facing uncertain futures.


Areas of research include:

Collaborative and creative feminist methods and analysis

Marginalised cultural heritage and arts practices

Migration and diaspora

Spatial practice and creative geographies

Art under conflict and creative resistance

Social Movements and activism

Ethics of care

Affect and heritage

Making, play, storytelling


Projects include:

-- “Feminism in Museums & Archives Practice”, supported by Arts Council England, Ida Carroll Trust, HEFCE UnLtd and Wellcome ISSF 2014 - 17: @dwarchivenorth


-- “Women and Power: resonance and social relevance of creative programming”, research analysis commissioned by National Trust 2017 - 19.

-- "People's Landscapes: Unearthing Protest and Passion", programme and guidebook research/authorship commissioned by National Trust 2018 - 19. 

-- “The Travelling Heritage Bureau of International Women Artists”, supported by HLF 2017 - 19: https://www.travellingheritagebureau.com/

-- Co-I, "Green Infrastructure and the Health and Wellbeing Influences on an Ageing Population (GHIA)", Valuing Nature Network, supported by NERC/ESRC/AHRC, 2016 -19:  https://ghia.org.uk/


External roles:

-- Trustee, charity Delia Derbyshire Day @DeliaDDay

-- Adviser and Research Consultant, National Trust and National Trust Regional Advisory Board North  @nationaltrust

-- Committee Member, Society for the Study of Labour History Archives & Resources @StudyLabHistory

-- Research Member, Valuing Nature Network NERC/ESRC/AHRC @ValuingN

-- Founder and Co-Director, Digital Women's Archive North CIC @dwarchivenorth  

-- Global Cultural Fellow, Institute for International Cultural Relations, University of Edinburgh @UoE_IICR



  • visual culture, arts, feminism, museums, heritage, human rights, memory studies, conflict, archives, childhood, home, collecting, storytelling, affect, emotion, place, space, activism, migration, diaspora, craft

Related information


Research output: Book/ReportBook

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