The socio-cultural Role of 3D technologies in rebuilding Sense of Place

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The socio-cultural Role of 3D technologies in rebuilding Sense of Place and increasing Community Resilience after natural catastrophes

Digital Humanities and Sensory Heritage (DHSH) - Seminar Series

Thursday 27 April 2023, 4.30pm 

Speaker: Paola Di Giuseppenatonio Di Franco  (University of Essex)

All Welcome


When communities lose their place, and heritage through catastrophes, they also risk losing their identity, making them particularly vulnerable. Heritage makes places significant, socially, and culturally, and is therefore essential to the definition of identity and sense of place. Therefore, for communities, losing heritage through catastrophes is the same as losing and arm or a leg: ‘you never fully recover’. It is essential to explore ways in which we can help communities to rebuild their heritage and sense of place, to help them to heal, recover socially, increasing their resilience that is the ability of a community to bounce back better after a catastrophe. 3D technologies can play an important role in supporting communities and heritage through catastrophes, especially in areas where these are recurrent. However, 3D technological interventions in these areas are often top-down and mainly focus on the resilience of tangible heritage, such as monuments and buildings and reconstructions that are based on preconceptual and standardised definitions of the ‘authentic place’. There is now more than ever an urgent need to support communities through disasters. This seminar will introduce REPLACE, a UKRI FLF project that proposes an evidence-based and community-centred longitudinal study that explores the transformative deployment or 3D technologies in rebuilding sense of place and increasing community resilience in the context of natural catastrophes. I will present preliminary data that show the healing power of Heritage Replicas (both digital and physical twins) and suggest how 3D technologies might facilitate the embodied reconnection with the lost place by aiding and hastening the recovery of heritage after a disaster.



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Paola Di Giuseppenatonio Di Franco is Senior Lecturer in Heritage and Digital Humanities and UKRI Future Leader Fellow (round 6), School of Philosophy and Art History, University of Essex. Her research combines material culture, heritage, and cognitive science to explore how new technologies impact heritage making processes and the interpretation processes of the past. Her UKRI FLF is titled "REbuilding a sense of PLACE (REPLACE): a programme of research that aims to increase community resilience after natural disasters by advancing our understanding of the socio-cultural role 3D technologies can play in rebuilding a sense of place, thus enabling communities to prepare for, respond to, recover from, mitigate the effects, and adapt to natural disasters. Her previous fellowships include a Marie Skłodowska Curie fellowship at the University of Cambridge & an Eastern ARC fellowship. Her research outputs are practice-based as well as journal or book focused. Dr di Franco has also recently been awarded a BAFTSS Practice Research Innovation award for her co-directed film "Italia Terremotata", which tells the story of resilient communities in post-earthquake Italy.



Find out more about the Digital Humanities and Sensory Heritage Network here.