Research Stream

Natsuko Akagawa

Natsuko Akagawa’s research focuses on heritage as it applies to people, nations and global interactions. Her pioneering research establishes a theoretical nexus between the politics of cultural diplomacy, heritage conservation, national identity and interest, which has now become one of the themes of interest for scholars in a range of disciplines. Her book, Heritage conservation in Japan’s cultural diplomacy: Heritage, national identity and national interest (Routledge 2014) formed the basis of subsequent research on the connections between broader elements of heritage and cultural diplomacy.

Natsuko is a co-editor of Intangible Heritage (Routledge 2009), internationally regarded as one of the first comprehensive texts on this topic. Together with her co-editor, she is preparing a second completely new edition forthcoming in 2017.

Current research interests include:

  • Colonial/Postcolonial heritage: politics and communities
  • Heritage and Emotion
  • Borders and space: memory and heritage
  • Transnational community and heritage: displacement, violence, identity, memory
  • Historic urban landscape: identity, memory and heritage 

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.



Curiosity, Lust and Love: Dutch Encounters with the East (1650-1800)

Professional engagement

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

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

Vice-President of ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage

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)

Recent publications


Smith, L. and N. Akagawa (eds), Safeguarding Intangible Heritage: Practices and Politics. Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge, 2019.

Akagawa, N. 2015, Heritage Conservation in Japan’s Cultural Diplomacy: Heritage, National Identity and National Interest. London; New York: Routledge, 2015.

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

Book chapters

Akagawa, N., ‘Intangible Heritage and Embodiment: Japan’s Influence on Global Heritage Discourse’. In A Companion to Heritage Studies, edited by W. Logan, M. Nic Craith and U. Kockel. New Jersey, Wiley-Blackwell, 2016.

Akagawa, N. (co-authored). ‘The war experience of Dutch Eurasian civilians in Java, 1942 – 1948’. In The Pacific War 1941-5: Aftermaths, Remembrance and Culture, edited by C. Twomey and E. Koh. New York; London: Routledge, 2014.

Akagawa, N. (co-authored), ‘Cultural rights and conservation of old Bangkok’. In Protecting Siam's Heritage, edited by C. Baker. Bangkok, Siam Society and Silkworm Books. 2013.

Akagawa, N. (co-authored), ‘Concept and practice of cultural landscape protection in Thailand’.   In Managing Cultural Landscapes, edited by K. Taylor and J. Lennon. London; New York: Routledge, 2012.

Akagawa, N, (co-authored), ‘Introduction’, in (eds), Intangible Heritage, edited by L. Smith and N. Akagawa. London; New York: Routledge, 2009.

Refereed journal articles

Akagawa, N. 2016. ‘Japan and the rise of heritage in cultural diplomacy: where are we heading?’. Future Anterior 132.1 (2016): 124–39.

Akagawa, N. 2016, ‘Rethinking the global heritage discourse – overcoming “East” and “West”?’. International Journal of Heritage Studies 22.1. (2016): 14-25. doi:10.1080/13527258.2015.1068213 (Published online 2015)

Akagawa, N. (co-authored). ‘Cultural rights and conservation of old Bangkok’. Journal of the Siam Society 100. (2013).

Akagawa, N. (co-authored). ‘Understanding the concept of cultural landscape in Thailand: From vernacular approach to the application of international framework’. The Architectural Journal of The Association of Siamese Architects Under Royal Patronage (ASA) August – September. (2010): 104-13.

Akagawa, N. (co-authored) 2008, ‘Cultural landscape in Asia and the Pacific: Implication of the World Heritage Convention’. International Journal of Heritage Studies 14.2 (2008): 176-91.

Refereed conference papers

Akagawa, N. Paper: ‘Curiosity, Lust, Love and Loathing: the Emotional Threads in Seventeenth-Century European Encounters with an Exotic East’, ‘Emotions: Movement, Cultural Contact and Exchange 1100 – 1800’ conference, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, 30 June–2 July 2016.

Akagawa, N. ‘The Politics of “Tangible” and “Intangible”, ‘RISKS TO IDENTITY: Loss of Traditions and Collective Memory’ 2015 ICOMOS Annual General Assembly, Advisory Committee Meeting and Scientific Symposium 2015, Fukuoka, Japan, 24–30 October 2015.

Akagawa, N. ‘Where Do We Draw a Line?’, ‘Thinking About Borders’, The University of Melbourne and Institute of Postcolonial Studies, 24 July 2015.

Akagwa, N. ‘The Impact of UNESCO Intangible Heritage Convention and the Politics and Practice of Heritage in Indonesia’, Eighth Indonesia Council Open Conference, Deakin University, Geelong, 2–3 July 2015.

Akagawa, N. ‘Visual Representation of Colonial Heritage’, ‘Practices of Order: Colonial and Imperial Projects’ Conference, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 27–31 January 2015.

Akagawa, N. ‘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 organised with the Institute für Sozialforschung (Institute for Social Research, IfS), and jointly organized with the Institute für Sozialforschung (Institute for Social Research, IfS), 22–26 January 2015.

Akagawa, N. ‘The Dynamics of “Our” Heritage in the Densely Populated Historic City: Macau’, International Conference on Citizens, Civil Society and the Cultural Politics of Heritage-Making in East and Southeast Asia, by Academic Cooperation of Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, 11–13 December 2014.

Akagawa, N. ‘Embodied Heritage: Intangible Nonetheless’, Association of Critical Heritage Studies international conference, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, 2–4 December 2014.

Akagawa, N. ‘Cultural Diplomacy and Heritage Conservation’, at Association of Critical Heritage Studies international conference, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, 2–4 December 2014.

Akagawa, N. ‘Sensing Intangible: Craft Skills’, ‘Grasping the Intangible at Heritage Places’, ICOMOS Australia, National scientific committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage inaugural conference, The University of Melbourne, 18 October 2014.

Akagawa, N. ‘Layers of Meaning and Emotion: Early Modern “West” in Japan’, ‘Sourcing Emotions in the Medieval and Early Modern World’ Conference, The University of Western Australia, 27–29 June 2013.

Akagawa, N. ‘Heritage Conservation Practice and Perspectives in Japan’, ‘Heritage Conserved and Contested: Asian and European Perspectives’, International Institute for Asian Studies and Leiden University, The Netherlands, 20–25 June 2011.