Dr Natsuko Akagawa is Assistant Professor at the University of Western Australia. She has a PhD, Master of Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies, Master of Business Administration (Honours), Graduate Diploma of Education and Diploma of Portuguese Language and Culture and Bachelor of Arts. Natsuko has established the theoretical nexus between the politics of heritage conservation, cultural diplomacy and national interest. This pioneering research is published in her monograph entitled Heritage Conservation in Japan’s Cultural Diplomacy: Heritage, National Identity and National Interest (Routledge 2014). This examines Japan’s role in developing international heritage protocols through its influential involvement in UNESCO and its contribution to the development of heritage policy and practice in Southeast Asia. Natsuko’s work has also established the significance of intangible heritage underling heritage conservation and has questioned the apparent dichotomy in East – West heritage practice at a global level. These are the subjects of two major book chapters to be published by Blackwell and Routledge. Her research approach is innovative as it reflects the insider/ outsider perspective and reveals history and politics that has not been discussed in English language literature. Her work has been influential and she has been invited to organise workshops and conference panels to develop this emerging field.
She is a co-editor of Intangible Heritage (Routledge 2009), part of internationally well-regarded Routledge series on heritage. It is due to be translated in Arabic, supported by Saudi Arabian Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage. She has chapters in Managing Cultural Landscape (Routledge 2012), a pioneering work on Cultural Landscape in Thailand, and Protecting Siam's Heritage (Siam Society and Silkworm Books 2013) on Cultural rights. She has undertaken heritage workshops, field schools and research projects, including UNESCO projects, in China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. Apart from Australia, she has worked and studied in the USA, Japan, Portugal, France and a number of Asian countries. She has been a visiting researcher at the East West Centre and University of Hawai’i, Manoa.
Natsuko’s current research is directed towards developing a broader examination of heritage practice in Southeast Asia (mainly in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos and The Philippines) in the context of global heritage practice and cultural diplomacy. This will bring together specific studies in Southeast Asian nations, both non-colonised countries and the nature of colonial and post-colonial practice, and political use of heritage in framing contemporary national identities in the region. She is also researching aspects of the history of the Japanese wartime administration of Indonesia, in particular in Sulawesi, based on Japanese archival documents and published post-war memoirs, till now largely undermined in Western and Indonesian research. She is also conducting a long-term research on the historical and heritage legacies of Macau. Her interest derives from Macau's geo-political location that intersects early modern European expansion, cultural interaction, and inter-Asian trade. She is co-translator of, Old Days in Macau (2000), widely regarded as offering a unique depiction of everyday life of the people of Macau predominantly in the second half of the twentieth century.