Although I was born in North Yorkshire, I spent most of my childhood in Hong Kong and my teenage years in Brisbane, Australia. I graduated with a double Anthropology major from the University of Queensland in 1996, where I developed an interest in Aboriginal Australian landscape management practices (“song-lines”, “fire-stick farming”).
Shortly after graduating, I returned to North Yorkshire, where I completed an MA in Archaeological Heritage Management at the University of York. There, I continued to develop an interest in cultural landscapes and explored issues of ownership, power, politics and control within the context of the Northumberland National Park (published in the International Journal of Heritage Studies). Although my PhD thesis eventually broadened out into an examination of heritage policy in England, I maintained an interested in landscape research and co-organised a landscape workshop at the University of York (Recovering Landscape as a Cultural Practice), with proceedings published as a special section in Landscape Research.
Until 2010 I held a 5-year RCUK Academic Fellowship in History and Heritage at Keele University, publishing the co-authored volume Heritage, Communities and Archaeology. Projects included undertaking visitor surveys at a range of social history museums, exploring the visual representations of heritage, and analysing political and popular responses to the bicentenary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
In late 2010, I returned to Australia, where I am currently an Associate Professor at Western Sydney University. My teaching and research continues to focus upon heritage with an added emphasis on heritage tourism and the politics of affect. As well as an affiliation with the School of Social Sciences and Psychology, I am also an Institute Fellow with the Institute for Culture and Society.
I was appointed as a Director of the Landscape Research Group in 2009.