In 2019 ENCATC interviewed Dr. Alba Victoria Zamarbide Urdaniz, 2018 ENCATC Research Award Winner

ENCATC: What have you been doing since winning the 2018 ENCATC Research Award on Cultural Policy and Cultural Management?

Dr. Alba Victoria Zamarbide Urdaniz: Returning back to Europe after 7 years in Japan has been quite a challenge. I have used this year to strengthen my connections within the EU and to attend as many events, workshops, and learning activities as my work schedule allowed me. For example, I joined different very inspiring activities with other young heritage professionals with the support of UNESCO and Europa Nostra. These were great opportunities to discuss about my own research ideas and conclusions, and to also do some networking with peers around Europe and start talking about possible future collaborations that are slowly taking shape.

Besides, I have been working as a freelance researcher and editor, specially focusing on participatory planning and territorial management in the Japanese context. These publications will come out this year in English and will make the very unique Japanese community approaches to living environments approachable to English speaking readers.

ENCATC: What were the main conclusions of your winning PhD thesis?

Dr. Alba Victoria Zamarbide Urdaniz: My thesis made the emphasis on the need to integrate bottom up and community values and governance inside heritage management models. Through a series of comparative studies at different levels, it pointed out the gaps of top down, legal and planning tools, which leave changing and living layers out. In such cases, the research proved that more creative and spontaneous tools and actions could fill in these gaps and give cohesion and a positive social complexity to the heritage place.

ENCATC: Where and how you do hope your research and new book will have the greatest impact?

Dr. Alba Victoria Zamarbide Urdaniz: I am confident that my book will contribute to the ongoing discussions on the role of heritage for sustainable development worldwide and inspire academics and practitioners looking for new tools. It will also bring attention to living environments and communities, who are the final heritage shareholders and bearers of important heritage values. This talks about a growing change in mindset, and even if sometimes difficult, about patience, respect and dialogue.

ENCATC: How does an Award like this one helped to support the career of a young/early career researcher who has recently completed their PhD thesis?

Dr. Alba Victoria Zamarbide Urdaniz: First of all, this award is a window to Europe. I shared the result in social networks, local newspapers, etc. and this gave me public attention in general, which is always important to share research results and try to make an impact. I had been very “shy” sharing my ideas out of my academic context previously. I believe this is something very common among young researchers. However, the award made me aware of the value of my efforts and encouraged me to share and discuss about it, and why not, exposing it to criticism. This also encouraged me to participate in European events to share my ideas.

Moreover, going through my work again and editing it into a book was also a great challenge. It made me re-evaluate the arguments and to make them more approachable.  This is also a very important lesson for my future, as research is not only about “results”, but also communicating them and trying to leave a positive impact.

Another important point was the network I built during last year`s ENCATC congress. From it I had the chance to stay in touch with experienced researchers who invited me to collaborate in academic activities within their own institutions. This has been a turning point in my career.

I am thrilled to participate in this year’s Congress again!

ENCATC: What are your plans for the future?

Dr. Alba Victoria Zamarbide Urdaniz: Next month I will join a Cultural Heritage specialist position in Mexico with UNOPS for half a year.  This is thrilling new adventure that will surely expand my horizon and knowledge. This time, I will be working as a consultant outside academia, but I believe that getting in touch with the industry is essential to design and conduct valuable research. 

For the second half of 2020 I am applying for a European Post Doc position in which I will be studying the role of intermediate and community groups in representing local values in the context of the European Capitals of Culture. This research aims at comparing global and public goals with on-site needs, and the effects and continuity of participation, community support and funding after these cultural events.