Cultural Infrastructures

Program Co-Convenors: Professor Deborah Stevenson and Dr Zelmarie Cantillon


The Cultural Infrastructures Research Program conducts cutting edge, interdisciplinary research into the cultural institutions and practices that shape the expression and experience of everyday lives and cultures, and contribute to the social, cultural, and economic vitality of cities and regions. These are the built and imaginative places for the production and consumption of culture. Mindful of the complexity and unevenness of cultural infrastructure, the program probes its contours at different levels of operation and governance, and in contexts ranging from the local to the global. Key research concerns include: cultural policy; placemaking; urban cultures; cultural work; the creative industries; museums and heritage; material culture; the arts; sport; entertainment; and leisure.

This program is innovative in its merging of policy-relevant and critical research, and the incorporation, under the rubric of ‘cultural infrastructure’, of diverse cultural institutions and practices such as heritage, the arts and sport. It brings both qualitative and quantitative research methods to bear on these important subjects while some researchers have a particular interest in applying the techniques of cultural mapping and data visualisation to penetrate the texture and complexity of cultural infrastructure. Research team members frequently work in partnerships with both the public and private sectors, including local municipalities, state government bodies, commercial and not-for-profit cultural organisations.

Important research currently underway examines options for conserving heritage sites in rapidly developing parts of Asia, including Mongolia and China, transnational approaches to interpreting migrant heritage and a study of heritage making by recent migrants from China and India in Parramatta. Other work probes civic engagement among diverse cultural communities, the planning, provision and uses of urban cultural infrastructure, the complexity of cultural work in Greater Metropolitan Sydney (especially in the West) and a major study of the social and cultural dynamics of cultural taste across contemporary Australia.