Dr Sophia Labadi

Senior Lecturer in Heritage and Archaeology


Dr Sophia Labadi’s academic background includes degrees in Heritage Studies (PhD and MA) and Political Sciences (BA). She is currently an AHRC Leadership Fellow (2019-2020), researching why heritage was marginalised from the Sustainable Development Goals.

Research interests

Much of Sophia's research has focused on how heritage sites and museums can address some of the most pressing global challenges, including social justice, gender equality or sustainable development. Her research is nourished by her previous experiences as consultant for international organisations. 

Her 2017 book Museums, Immigrants and Social Justice (Routledge) assesses how European museums can address the cultural, economic, social and political inequalities facing immigrants. Her 2016 book L’Impact de la Culture en Europe (L’Harmattan) assesses the social and economic impacts of heritage regeneration in European cities. Her 2013 book UNESCO, Cultural Heritage and Outstanding Universal Value (AltaMira Press) analysed the World Heritage and Intangible Heritage Conventions. 

Sophia is a member of the Health, Wellbeing and the Senses research cluster. She is also a member of the Centre for Heritage

More information about Sophia's work is available on her personal website


Sophia was part of the team who drafted the 2015 UNESCO Policy on World Heritage and Sustainable Development. Since then, she has organised workshops to identify ways to implement this policy.     


Sophia teaches Archaeological Theory, Museum Studies and Heritage Studies (including Heritage and Development).  


Sophia supervises students on a diverse range of topics, including heritage regeneration, slavery in the Dutch Caribbean, representation of diversity in museums and VR reconstruction of archaeological sites. 



  • Appendino, F., Giliberto, F. and Labadi, S. (2016). The role of Environmental and Heritage Impact Assessment in Liverpool World Heritage site. Valori e Valutazioni 17:1-16.
    The city of Liverpool is one of the major cities in the United Kingdom. Starting from the second half of the 17th century, it has become a port city of world-wide significance. Liverpool’s expansion and economic development had suffered an intense degeneration starting from the 1930s and especially after the Second World War, which had provoked the loss of many job opportunities and a huge demographic decline. To face this socio-economic change, the beginning of the 21st century has been characterized by cultural-led regeneration strategies with the aim to transform the city image from a neglected into a new international, creative and dynamic reality and to stimulate its economic development. This paper focuses in particular on the inscription of Liverpool’s historic centre in the UNESCO World Heritage List (WHL) as “Liverpool-Maritime Mercantile City” in 2004. However, the World Heritage site (WHS) is currently threatened by the potential negative impacts of Liverpool Waters, a major urban redevelopment scheme extended both in the UNESCO site and in its buffer zone. While being able to attract bigger investments and to stimulate economic development, the scheme may irreversibly damage the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the site. For this reason, the site was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in danger in 2012.
    The conflict between the needs of heritage preservation and those of urban development happening in Liverpool is not an isolated example, as it is underlined in many state of conservation reports related to other World Heritage sites. However, the case of Liverpool is particularly relevant if considering the Environmental and Heritage Impact Assessments tools that were carried out on behalf of different actors with diverging interests (the developers – Peel Group – and English Heritage – Statutory Advisor of the government of the United Kingdom) to underline the potential impacts that the scheme Liverpool Waters may have on the OUV of the WHS. The objective of this paper is to critically analyse the assessment tools used in this context – Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) – identifying their limits and strengths in evaluating the impacts on cultural heritage and, in particular, on the OUV of Liverpool WHS.
  • Labadi, S. (2014). The Upstream Process: The Way Forward for the World Heritage Convention? Heritage and Society [Online] 7:57-58. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/.
  • Labadi, S. (2013). The National Museum of Immigration History (Paris; France): Neo-Colonialist Representations, Silencing, and Re-appropriation. Journal of Social Archaeology [Online] 13:310-330. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1469605313501582.
    This article focuses on the Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration (National Museum of Immigration History – CNHI, Paris), the only national museum fully dedicated to the celebration of the positive contributions of immigrants to France. Using postcolonial theories and the notion of museum friction, it charts the conflicting processes and decisions at play in, first, the translation of the aims and goal of the CNHI into the museography and interpretation of the collections. Second, it analyses critically the usages made of this heritage space, particularly its unauthorised occupation (one of the longest unauthorised occupations of a museum in France) by illegal workers for four months, from October 2010 to January 2011. I wrote this article from the viewpoint of a second generation immigrant, one of the key targeted visitors of the CNHI. This article is also based on participant observation of each aspect of this heritage space, careful observation of its uses, and semi-structured interviews conducted with the CNHI staff, illegal workers who occupied this heritage space, and human rights organisations which supported its occupation.
  • Labadi, S. (2011). Intangible Heritage and Sustainable Development: Realistic Outcome or Wishful Thinking? Heritage and Society [Online] 4:115-118. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/hso.2011.4.1.115.
  • Labadi, S. (2010). Investing in Cultural Diversity. International Social Science Journal [Online] 61:5-13. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2451.2010.01745.x.
    The aim of this introduction is to contextualise the multifarious notion of cultural diversity by analysing, firstly, its relations with globalisation as well as the different normative actions undertaken by UNESCO to protect it against the negative impacts of the globalisation processes. This introduction also explains how globalisation can be beneficial for cultural diversity and contribute to new, fluid and deterritorialised phenomena. Finally, fear of cultural diversity, characterised by ethnocentric attitudes that attempt to preserve “authentic identities”, is briefly touched upon, along with the obvious limitations of such stances. The second part of this introduction presents the articles selected for this issue among the background papers commissioned by UNESCO to help to draft the 2009 World Report on cultural diversity. Each article sheds light on particular dimensions of cultural diversity: in combination, they provide a valuable overview of its multiple meanings and contexts.
  • Labadi, S. (2009). Le patrimoine culturel, facteur d'insertion sociale des jeunes des zones sensibles. Espoir 156:150-153.
  • Labadi, S. (2007). Representations of the Nation and Cultural Diversity in Discourses on World Heritage. Journal of Social Archaeology [Online] 7:147-170. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1469605307077466.
    This article presents the main values for which 106 sites have been nominated for inclusion on the World Heritage List. The article then analyses how these values have been used for the representation of the nation, the past and cultural diversity and the construction of national collective identities. The exclusions of specific themes and groups of the population as well as their histories and values from these representations are highlighted. Finally, international efforts that aim to relocate these themes and subjects from a marginal to a more central position within official discourses on World Heritage are detailed.
  • Labadi, S. (2005). A review of the Global Strategy for a Balanced, Representative and Credible World Heritage List 1994-2004. Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites [Online] 7:89-102. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/135050305793137477.
    A critical analysis is given of the decade of implementation of the ‘Global Strategy for a Balanced, Representative and Credible World Heritage List’, adopted by the World Heritage Committee in 1994, to highlight its successes but also its problems and pitfalls. This paper is structured around two key themes of the 1994 report on the Global Strategy. First, the need to rectify some apparent thematic, geographic and chronological imbalances and discrepancies on the World Heritage List is discussed. This first part demonstrates that some of these imbalances have not been rectified. It also puts forward reasons for this ongoing situation. The second part of the paper is concerned with the recommendation of the 1994 expert meeting on the Global Strategy to consider sites of (potential) outstanding universal value in their broad social and anthropological context. This part considers, in particular, efforts to encourage the participation and involvement of local and/or indigenous communities in the nomination, conservation and management of World Heritage sites. The paper concludes with some suggestions for a more successful implementation of the Global Strategy.
  • Labadi, S. (2003). From a ‘Clash of Civilisations’ to Reconciliation? A response to R. Matthews. Papers from the Institute of Archaeology 14:10-13.
  • Labadi, S. (2003). The Importance, Conservation and Management of Industrial Heritage sites in Chile. Industrial Patrimony 9:65-72.
    The fact that Chile took some time to define its territorial boundaries and discover its essential resources did not prevent the quick growth of its industrial potential, especially in the mining field. The article begins with an overview of the historical, architectural and social aspects of Chile's industrial heritage. It examines the state of conservation of this heritage. Conservation management aspects are dealt with through case studies on the cultural centre of Mapocho, the Sewell mining camp, Humberstone and Santa Laura.
  • Labadi, S. (2001). Industrial Archaeology as Historical Archaeology and Cultural Anthropology. Papers from the Institute of Archaeology [Online] 12:77-85. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/pia.162.
    This article aims to analyse some of the issues and recent evolutions in the definition and theorisation of industrial archaeology. The chronological boundaries of the field are first of all analysed to demonstrate that it is difficult to restrict the scope of industrial archaeology to the Industrial Revolution. The second aim of this paper is to examine the thematic boundaries of industrial archaeology using recent publications in historical archaeology. The importance of a multidisciplinary approach to the study of industrial archaeology using a variety of subjects, approaches and methods is stressed. The final aim of this paper is to define industrial archaeology as cultural anthropology, concerned with studying and explaining people at work in different settings. These ideas are illustrated using a number of case studies from Europe and Africa.


  • Labadi, S. (2017). Museums, Immigrants, and Social Justice. [Online]. London: Routledge. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Museums-Immigrants-and-Social-Justice/Labadi/p/book/9781138502291.
    This interdisciplinary book argues that museums can offer a powerful, and often overlooked, arena for both exploring and acting upon the interrelated issues of immigration and social justice. Based on three in-depth European case studies, spanning France, Denmark, and the UK, the research examines programs developed by leading museums to address cultural, economic, social and political inequalities. Where previous studies on museums and immigration have focused primarily on issues of cultural inequalities in collection and interpretation, Museums, Immigrants, and Social Justice adopts a more comprehensive focus that extends beyond the exhibition hall to examine the full range of programs developed by museums to address the of cultural, economic, social and political inequalities facing immigrants.
  • Labadi, S. (2016). L’impact de la culture en Europe. Évaluation des impacts socio-économiques de projets de régénération culturelle. Paris: l'Harmattan.
  • Labadi, S. (2013). UNESCO, Cultural Heritage, and Outstanding Universal Value: Value-based Analyses of the World Heritage and Intangible Cultural Heritage Conventions. USA: AltaMira Press.
    This book explores the international legal framework developed by UNESCO to identify and protect world heritage and its implementation at the national level. Drawing on close policy analysis of UNESCO's major documents, extensive professional experience at UNESCO, as well as in-depth analyses of case studies from Asia, Europe, and Latin America, Sophia Labadi offers a nuanced discussion of the constitutive role of national understandings of a universalist framework. The discussion departs from considerations of the World Heritage Convention as Eurocentric and offers a more complex analysis of how official narratives relating to non-European and non-traditional heritage mark a subversion of a dominant and canonical European representation of heritage. It engages simultaneously with a diversity of discourses across the humanities and social sciences and with related theories pertaining not only to tangible and intangible heritage, conservation, and archaeology but also political science, social theory, tourism and development studies, economics, cultural, and gender studies. In doing so, it provides a critical review of many key concepts, including tourism, development, sustainability, intangible heritage, and authenticity.
  • Labadi, S. (2011). Evaluating the Socio-Economic Impacts of Selected Regenerated Heritage Sites in Europe. European Cultural Foundation. [Online]. European cultural foundation. Available at: http://www.encatc.org/pages/fileadmin/user_upload/Forum/Sophia_Labadi_2008CPRA_Publication.pdf.
    Over and over again, in much quoted research, a new orthodoxy is expounded: culture-led development or regeneration stimulates significant positive economic and social outcomes,including creating employment and strengthening of social cohesion, inclusion and collective identity. The methodology and findings of these publications are, however, being challenged, with critics regularly calling for more robust evidence on the socio-economic impacts of culture-based development or regeneration projects and for more rigorous evaluation of the shortcomings of such schemes. Such calls for improved evaluation are also a rejection of the more simplistic assertions and grandiose generalisations about the assumed benefits of ‘culture’. This research project is a response to that call and is based on in-depth analyses of four cases studies in England, France and Poland. In conclusion, the report stresses the importance of regionalising the regeneration process, to ensure that its benefits are shared geographically and are sustainable. It is critical of the very broad definition of ‘culture’ and ‘heritage’ used in all four schemes which, in aiming to target as wide a public as possible, has led to an emphasis on ‘spectacle’ and stimulation, resulting in superficial and trivialised cultural events, sometimes not in any way connected to the locality in which they are set. Secondly the report considers the main issues with the evaluation models and findings, which are highlighted all through this report. It draws attention to the lack of primary and secondary data available to the evaluators, which sometimes forced them to base their assessments on the broadest of estimates. Such lack of data prevented the possibility of constructing longitudinal series of data on the long-term impact of regeneration. Focusing on the three official evaluations (The Lowry, Liverpool Walk Ropes and Lille 2004), the report shows how they were flawed by from ‘optimism bias’ – they were overtly optimistic in the benefits delivery of the projects. Finally, no evidence was found linking the regeneration scheme to social cohesion and inclusion.

Book section

  • Labadi, S. (2019). Re-examining World Heritage and Sustainable Development. in: Bharne, V. and Sandmeier, T. eds. Routledge Companion on Global Heritage Conservation. Routledge, pp. 15-26.
    World Heritage is one of the most popular global program on conservation, with 1052 sites on the List in 165 countries. Uncontrolled development is one of the most significant threats affecting World Heritage sites. Yet, only in 2012 did the World Heritage Committee recommend the preparation of guidance on the integration of sustainable development issues within conservation and management strategies, as well as the revision of the Operational Guidelines to incorporate issues related to sustainable development. This chapter aims to analyse critically the processes that led to the preparation and adoption of the first policy on World Heritage and Sustainable Development. A first part analyses references to sustainable development in official documents, and then moves on to detail different unsustainable trends that have continued to affect World Heritage properties. Finally, this chapter analyses, using firsthand experience, the recently (November 2015) adopted 'Policy for the integration of a Sustainable Development Perspective into the processes of the World Heritage Convention.
  • Labadi, S. (2018). Historical, theoretical and international considerations on culture, heritage and (sustainable) development. in: Larsen, P. and Logan, W. eds. World Heritage and Sustainable Development: New Directions in World Heritage Management. London: Routledge, pp. 37-49.
  • Labadi, S. (2018). UNESCO World Heritage Convention. in: Smith, C. ed. Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. New York: Springer.
  • Labadi, S. (2018). World Heritage and Gender Equality. in: Larsen, P. and Logan, W. eds. World Heritage and Sustainable Development: new directions in World Heritage Management. London: Routledge, pp. 87-100.
  • Labadi, S. (2017). UNESCO, World Heritage, and Sustainable Development: International Discourses and Local Impacts. in: Gould, P. and Pyburn, A. eds. Collision or Collaboration: Archaeology Encounters Economic Development. Cham: Springer, pp. 45-60.
  • Labadi, S. and Logan, W. (2015). Approaches to Urban Heritage, Development and Sustainability. in: Labadi, S. and Logan, W. eds. Urban Heritage, Development and Sustainability. London: Routledge.
  • Labadi, S. and Gould, P. (2015). Sustainable Development: Heritage, Community, Economics. in: Meskell, L. ed. Global Heritage. Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 196-216.
  • Labadi, S. (2015). The Impacts of Culture and Heritage-led Development Programs: the Cases of Liverpool (UK) and Lille (France). in: Labadi, S. and Logan, W. eds. Urban Heritage, Development and Sustainability: International Frameworks, National and Local Governance. London, UK and New York, USA: Routledge, pp. 137-150. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Urban-Heritage-Development-and-Sustainability-International-Frameworks/Labadi-Logan/p/book/9781138845756.
  • Labadi, S. (2014). United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Convention. in: Smith, C. ed. Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. New York: Springer, pp. 7434-7439. Available at: http://www.springer.com/social+sciences/anthropology+%26+archaeology/book/978-1-4419-0426-3.
  • Labadi, S. (2013). Culture: a driver and enabler of social cohesion. in: UNESCO International Congress 'Culture: Key to Sustainable Development'. UNESCO.
  • Labadi, S. (2012). Public Policy: Charters. in: Silberman, N. ed. The Oxford Companion to Archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 684-687. Available at: http://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-oxford-companion-to-archaeology-9780199735785?cc=gr&lang=en&.
  • Labadi, S. (2012). Public Policy: Conventions. in: Silberman, N. ed. The Oxford Companion to Archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 680-683. Available at: http://www.oxfordreference.com/search?source=%2F10.1093%2Facref%2F9780199735785.001.0001%2Facref-9780199735785&q=public+policy.
  • Labadi, S. (2012). Public Policy: Introduction. in: Silberman, N. ed. The Oxford Companion to Archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 672-673. Available at: http://www.oxfordreference.com/search?source=%2F10.1093%2Facref%2F9780199735785.001.0001%2Facref-9780199735785&q=public+policy.
  • Labadi, S. (2012). International Organizations. in: Silberman, N. ed. Oxford Companion to Archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 109-112. Available at: http://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-oxford-companion-to-archaeology-9780199735785;jsessionid=6EA25674200A8AE1C461032021E470E8?cc=gr&lang=en&.
  • Labadi, S. (2010). World Heritage, authenticity and post-authenticity: international and national perspectives. in: Labadi, S. and Long, C. eds. Heritage and Globalisation. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 66-84.
  • Long, C. and Labadi, S. (2010). Introduction. in: Labadi, S. and Long, C. eds. Heritage and Globalisation. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 1-16.
  • Labadi, S. (2010). Socio-Economic Impact of Cultural Projects in Great Britain. in: Le Duc, F. ed. Culture as a Tool for Development: Challenges of Analysis and Action. CNFPT, pp. 206-223.
  • Labadi, S. (2009). Chapter 8. Cultural Diversity, Human Rights and Democratic Governance. in: Sampson, F. ed. Investing in Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue: UNESCO World Report. Paris: UNESCO, pp. 221-250. Available at: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001852/185202E.pdf.
  • Labadi, S. (2009). Chapter 1. Cultural Diversity in a Globalising World. in: Sampson, F. ed. Investing in Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue: UNESCO World Report. Paris: UNESCO, pp. 13-18. Available at: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001852/185202E.pdf.
  • Labadi, S. and Wintzerith, S. (2008). ICOM et ICOMOS, deux ONG internationales entre universalisme et relativisme. in: Groupe de Recherches sur les Musées et le Patrimoine, G. R. M. P. ed. Patrimoine et Mondialisation. Paris: L'Harmattan, pp. 77-94.
  • Cleere, H. and Labadi, S. (2004). World Heritage List and Tentative Lists: typological analyses. in: The World Heritage List: Filling the Gaps - an Action Plan for the Future An Analysis by ICOMOS. ICOMOS.

Edited book

  • Labadi, S. and Logan, W. eds. (2015). Urban Heritage, Development and Sustainability. London: Routledge.
  • Labadi, S. and Long, C. eds. (2010). Heritage and Globalisation. London and New York: Routledge.
    This volume analyses the politics, policy and practice of cultural heritage at the
    global level, identifying the major directions in which international heritage practice
    is moving, and exploring the key issues likely to shape the cultural heritage ? eld
    well into the 21st century. It examines the tensions between the universal claims of
    much heritage practice, particularly that associated with the World Heritage system,
    and national and local perspectives. It explores the international legal framework
    developed since World War Two to protect heritage, particularly at times of war,
    and from theft, showing how contemporary global problems of con ? ict and illicit
    trade continue to challenge the international legal system.

    Heritage and Globalisation critiques the incorporation of heritage in the world
    economy through the policies of international development organisations and the
    global tourism trade. It also approaches heritage from seldom-considered perspec-
    tives, as a form of aid, as a development paradigm, and as a form of sustainable

    The book identi?es some of the most pressing issues likely to face the heritage
    industry at a global level in coming decades, including the threat posed by climate
    change and the need for poverty reduction. Providing a historically and theoretically
    rigorous approach to heritage as a form of and manifestation of globalisation, the
    volume ’ s emphasis is on contemporary issues and new ? elds for heritage practice
  • Labadi, S. and Bandarin, F. eds. (2007). World Heritage: Challenges for the Millennium. [Online]. Paris: UNESCO. Available at: http://whc.unesco.org/documents/publi_millennium_en.pdf.
    This 200-page publication provides a comprehensive overview and analysis of more than three decades of the implementation of the World Heritage Convention and highlights a number of its successes and challenges. It includes a history of the 1972 Convention and its implementation, an analysis of the natural and cultural diversity of the world included on the World Heritage List, and a look at the state of conservation of World Heritage sites. Containing a wealth of information with over 100 photographs, 26 maps and numerous tables and graphs, it is intended for the general reader as well as university students and researchers, heritage conservation specialists and policy-makers.

Research report (external)

  • Labadi, S. (2009). Literature review of indicators of culture and development- Unpublished report submitted to UNESCO. UNESCO.


  • Labadi, S. (2008). Review of Dallen J. Timothy, 'Managing Heritage and Cultural Tourism Resources. Critical Essays' (Volume One). Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change [Online] 5:223-226. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.2167/jtccB040.0.


  • Labadi, S. (2019). The promises, challenges and opportunities of international aid and culture. in: Labadi, S. ed. The cultural turn in international aid: impacts and challenges for heritage and the creative industries. London: Routledge.
  • Labadi, S. ed. (2019). The cultural turn in international aid: impacts and challenges for heritage and the creative industries. London: Routledge.
    There exists a high volume of literature on international aid , yet few academic publications focus specifically on culture and international aid. This is particularly problematic, as the lack of research on this topic may be a main reason for the omission of a culture specific goal within the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals, the latest UN framework for international aid spending (2015-2030). This edited volume of commissioned papers aims to fill this gap through considering a wide and comprehensive range of issues related to culture and international aid, in both a critical and constructive manner. It assesses the reasons why international aid is provided for cultural projects, rather than for other causes. It also considers whether and how donor funded cultural projects can address global challenges, including post-conflict recovery, building peace and security, strengthening resilience or promoting human rights. Moreover, this book critically assesses the impact of international aid, the diverse power relations and inequalities created, as well as the interests served at international, national and/or local levels. When projects have failed, this book analyses the reasons for their failure, but also discusses the lessons learnt, whenever relevant. Another core theme of this volume concerns the influence of donors in privileging some forms of culture over others, creating or maintaining specific memories, identities, and interpretations of history, and the reasons for doing so. These rich discussions will be contextualised through a historical section which considers the definitions, approaches and discourses related to culture and aid at international and regional levels.
  • Labadi, S. (2019). Conclusions: Heritage and Migrations in the 21st century. in: Colomer, L. ed. Heritage Discourses in Europe: Responding to Migration, Mobility, and Cultural Identities in the 21st Century. ARC humanities Press.
  • Labadi, S. (2019). UNESCO's approach to culture, aid and development, from the Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) to the Sustainable Development Goals (2015). in: Labadi, S. ed. The cultural turn in international aid: impacts and challenges for heritage and the creative industries. Routledge.
  • Labadi, S. (2019). The future of international aid and culture. in: Labadi, S. ed. The cultural turn in international aid: impacts and challenges for heritage and the creative industries. London: Routledge.
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