Researcher biography

Natsuko Akagawa has a PhD and Masters in Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies, Master of Business Administration, Graduate Diploma of Education, Diploma of Portuguese Language and Culture and Bachelor of Arts. She has also studied and practiced the Japanese arts of tea ceremony, flower arrangement, traditional martial arts (aikijujutsu) and traditional fabric dying techniques in Japan. She has published widely on heritage, Japan and Southeast Asia.

She is the Member of International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), Expert Member of ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage, Expert Member of ICOMOS International Scientific Committee of Vernacular Architecture, Australia ICOMOS National Scientific Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage (NSC-ICH), Member of International Council of Museums (ICOM), Member of International Committee of Memorial Museums in remembrance of the victims of Public Crimes (IC-MEMO)and a member of Association of Critical Heritage Studies. She is also a member of Japanese Studies Association of Australia (JSAA) and a founding member of Australian Network for Japanese as Community Language and represetative for the State of Queensland.

She is also the Series Editor for Routledge Research on Museums and Heritage in Asia (Routledge) and the Member of the Editorial Board for International Journal of Heritage Studies (peer-reviewed leading international journal on heritage studies) and History of Museum Journal (the only international, peer-reviewed journal devoted to the history of museums).

Natsuko's research focuses on heritage as it applies to people, communities, nations and global interactions. She is looking at how 'heritage' is contested and negotiated on national, international, multicultural and colonial and post-colonial context. It is interested in the way heritage assembles histories, memories and identities and is articulated in policies, practices and imaginaries.

Her book, Heritage conservation in Japan's cultural diplomacy: Heritage, national identity and national interest (Routledge Contemporary Japanese Series 2014), which establishes a pioneering theoretical nexus between the politics of cultural diplomacy, heritage conservation, and national identity and interest, has become a focus for scholars in a range of disciplines

Natsuko is a co-editor of Intangible Heritage (Routledge 2009), internationally regarded as one of the first comprehensive texts on this topic and used widely as a prescribed reading material globaly. Her new book Safeguarding Intangible Heritage (Routledge 2019) with her co-editor will add another dimension to international heritage discourse. In her research in this area, she has been tracing the recent development of the concept of intangible heritage in heritage discourse and practice. In particular, this has examined the influence of Japanese heritage practice in recognising the importance of embodied skill in relation to material or tangible heritage. More generally she is interested in how this new understanding of heritage has influenced community practice, national policy-making and global heritage discourse.

She was also Associate Investigator ARC centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions. Her particular interest in relation to the history of emotions involves the way emotions mediated the cultural encounter of East and West at both personal and political levels in the early modern period. She is interested in the way such encounters played a role in shaping perceptions and the performance of heritage in both East and West, through engagement with both tangible and intangible elements such as meanings, memories and identity.

Other areas of her current research and publications have involved specific studies on the nature of colonial and post-colonial practice of heritage in several East and Southeast Asian nations, and the political use of heritage in framing contemporary national identities in the region, with particular reference to Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. Following an earlier article related to Japan's occupation of Indonesia between 1942 and 1945, Natsuko is researching the legacy of Japanese naval administration in East Indonesia as part of a co-authored book on the history of Central Sulawesi (Indonesia). She is also developing these various studies for a book on Japan's civil and cultural administration of Indonesia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific and its legacies.

Research interests also include:

- Cultural diplomacy and heritage

- Intangible heritage

- Culinary heritage

- Religion and heritage

- Borders and space: heritage, memory and migration (Transnational community and heritage: displacement, violence, trauma, identity, memory)

- Difficult heritage: trauma, emotion and heritage

- Heritage and Emotion / Heritage and Cultural Tourism

- Development of heritage policy and practice in Japan and Asia

- Historic urban/cultural landscape: identity, memory and heritage

- Colonial/Postcolonial/Decolonial heritage: politics and communities

- Digital heritage

Professional engagement

Expert Member of International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)

Expert Member of ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage (Former Vice President)

Expert Member of ICOMOS International Scientific Committee of Vernacular Architecture

Australia ICOMOS National Scientific Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage (Coordinating Group)

Member of International Council of Museums (ICOM)

Member of International Committee of Memorial Museums in remembrance of the victims of Public Crimes (IC-MEMO)

Research Fellow at the International Institute of Asian Studies with Leiden University (Netherlands) (EU funded)

Visiting research fellow at the East West Centre and University of Hawaii, Manoa (United States Federal Government funded)

Australian Network for Japanese as Community Language (Representitive for Queensland)

QLD Senior External Assessment Panel member for the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority

Associate Investigator for Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions

Reviewer: International Journal of Heritage Studies, Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research, Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing, Journal of Cultural Geography, Asia Pacific Journal of Arts and Cultural Management etc.

Recent publications


Versaci, A., Bougdah, H., Akagawa, N. and Cavalagli, N. (eds.) 2021. Conservation of architectural heritage. 2nd Ed. Heidelberg, Germany: Springer.

Hubbell, A, Akagawa, N., Rojas-Lizana, S. Pohlman, A. (eds.) 2020 Places of traumatic memory: a global context.Palgrave Macmillan

Akagawa, N. and Smith, L. (eds.) 2019 Safeguarding Intangible Heritage: practices and politics, London; New York: Routledge.

Akagawa, N. 2015 Heritage Conservation in Japan's Cultural Diplomacy: Heritage, National Identity and National Interest, London; New York: Routledge. [Hardcover, Softcover and eBook format]

Smith, L. and Akagawa, N. (eds.) 2009 Intangible Heritage, London; New York: Routledge.

Chan, Wai Fai. Akagawa, Natsuko. Au, Joselyn and Chu, Ka Man 2000 XI RI FENG QING: MAN HUA AOMEN JIE [Those with the days...]. Macau: 亞正萬象制作 [A Cheng Man Cheong Chai Chok]


Akagawa, N. 2021. Lust, love and curiosity: the emotional threads in the Dutch encounter with an exotic east. Matters of engagement: emotions, identity and cultural contact in the premodern world. (pp. 73-94) edited by Hacke, Daniela, Jarzebowski, Claudia and Ziegler, Hannes. London, United Kingdom: Routledge

Akagawa, N., 2020. 'Difficult Heritage', Silent Witnesses: Dismembering Traumatic Memories, Narratives, and Emotions of Firebombing in Japan'. In: Hubbell, A, Akagawa, N., Rojas-Lizana, S. Pohlman, A. (eds.) Transcultural Narratives and Places of Trauma. Palgrave Macmillan.

Exhibition and Catalogue

Akagawa, N. 2014, Ukiyo-e in Memory, Ukiyo-e: Japanese Prints of the Floating World, 8 February - 28 June 2014, Berndt Museum/Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, the University of Western Australia.


Akagawa, N. 2020. 'Heritage and Pandemics: Impact on Living Heritage', HASS COVID 19 Forum: What can the humanities tell us about COVID-19?, The University of Queensland, 24 July 2020. Virtual.

Akagawa, N. 2019, 'Feeling the intangible: decolonising discourse and practice', Heritage Symposium Expanding Heritage: The Future of our Past, National Trust of Australia (Queensland), Howard Smith Wharves, Rivershed West, Friday 11th October 2019.

Akagawa, N. 2019. Panel 'Cultural Diplomacy in the 21st Century: cultivating the seeds of belonging', in BrisAsia Symposium 2019 – Belonging, QPAC, Brisbane City Council, 1 March, 2019.

Akagawa, N. 2018. 'Current issues in heritage discourse', International Studies Distinguished Guest Special Forum public lecture, Kwanseigakuin University, Japan. 21 December 2018.

Akagawa, N. 2018. 'Intangible heritage: beyond convention,' Distinguished Guest Public Lecture and Master class, Taiwan National University of Arts, Taiwan, 7- 12 December 2018.

Akagawa, N. 2018. 'Digital heritage,' Distinguished Guest Public Lecture, Taiwan National University of Arts, Taiwan, Taiwan, 7- 12 December 2018.

Akagawa, N. 2017. 'Intangible Cultural Heritage on the Crossroads: Vanishing Existence or Protective Measures in Good Time?' Keynote address to the European Cultural Forum 2017 to mark the start of the European Year of Cultural Heritage (2018) organised by EUNIC (European Network of National Cultural Institutes) and ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen/Institute for International Cultural Relations) in Milan, Italy, 7 - 8 December 2017.

Akagawa, N. 2017 'Language and Identity', Invited Public Lecture, Waseda University, Japan, 20 January 2017.

Akagawa, N. 2015 'Heritage and Embodiment: Japan's influence on global heritage discourse', Department of Japanese Literature, Faculty of Letters, Universitas Hasanuddin, Makassar, Indonesia, 22 December, 2015.

Akagawa, N. 2015 'Japan, Word Heritage, National Interest and Cultural Diplomacy', Architectural History, Urban and Cultural Heritage, University of Melbourne, The University of Melbourne, 2 September, 2015.

Akagawa, N. 2015 'Urban Heritage, Indonesian heritage systems; Seminar and workshop', Soegijapranata Catholic University, Semarang, Indonesia, Faculty of Urban and Environmental Studies. 4-6th February 2015.

Akagawa, N. 2015 'Local, National and International Factors in the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Japan', Protecting the Weak: Entangled processes of framing, mobilization and institutionalization in East Asia, Frankfurt, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, and jointly organized with the Institute für Sozialforschung (Institute for Social Research, IfS), 22- 26 January 2015.

Akagawa, N. 2014 'Contemporary issues in heritage discourse', Seminar and workshop (hosted by Taipei National University of the Arts, Graduate Institute of Architecture and Cultural Heritage). 13-17 December 2014.

Akagawa, N. 2014 'Heritage Conservation and Cultural Diplomacy', Asian Studies Seminar Series at Asian Studies, The University of Western Australia, 28 March, 2014.

Akagawa, N. 2012 'Heritage Conservation and Japan's soft power, Asian Institute -Sidney Myer Asia Centre, University of Melbourne. 18 May, 2012.