The DHAKIRA Center for Heritage Studies was founded in 2015 to provide academic and community-based heritage programs to meet the growing interest in tangible and intangible heritage and its creation and management.

Our center's primary goal is to expand beyond the current polarized discourses in the heritage field. DHAKIRA builds on a vibrant interdisciplinary research network within New York University Abu Dhabi, the NYU Global Network University and a wide range of local, regional, and globally connected professional institutions and grassroots heritage communities. It was envisioned as a center that allows the combination and interrelation of sciences and humanities together.

The DHAKIRA Center incorporates new innovations to create cutting-edge heritage models for application in the real world, exploring heritage through two linked clusters: Heritage and Society, and Heritage and Science.

Director Robert Parthesius, a leading expert in the heritage field with over 30 years of experience leads programs from a Heritage and Society perspective, and co-director Francesco Arneodo, who applies nuclear and particle physics techniques to cultural heritage, is focused on Heritage and Science.


DHAKIRA is a powerful, emotional word in Arabic that translates into memory, remembrance, and reminiscence.

To us, that means developing organically grown heritage communities that define memory and cultural and national identity from grassroots perspectives, as well as through the traditional academic fields of archaeology, anthropology, and conservation — and also through non-traditional fields, such as environmental science, biology, food, poetry, and artistic media.

It means tapping into the NYU Global Network to develop research-based learning and innovative teaching that puts heritage education in both a local and global context.

Not content with feel-good heritage, Dhakira looks at heritage as a powerful agent in geopolitical contexts and national identity.

DHAKIRA’s programs encourage collaborative, multi-disciplinary work amongst DHAKIRA researchers and beyond, making its signature HeritageLab an incubator for research-based learning at NYUAD and GNU. Through its dedicated core team, Dhakira has established a network of local and international stakeholders in the heritage field ranging from leading scholars and heritage professionals to emerging academics and undergraduate research fellows.

Our Guiding Principles

  • Heritage studies is a discipline that draws on and examines the work of multiple disciplines across the humanities, social sciences, and hard sciences.
  • It is an inclusive discipline that draws on academia, practice, and society.
  • It examines heritage from both critical and applied perspectives.


Through its research, Dhakira seeks to understand the mechanisms underlying heritage and its uses. As many current societies look towards reshaping their futures amidst global social, political and economic shifts, heritage and heritage processes have been centrally placed as markers of identity and future vision. By examining and attempting to understand those elements of heritage, Dhakira can contribute to societies’ discussions about how culture and identity are used to shape the future.

Dhakira and NYUAD offer recommendations, insights, and projections that predict and anticipate social, identity and heritage processes.

The Three Pillars

The goals of Dhakira and the heritage studies program are designed around a structure that ensures inclusivity. To do this, projects and programs are built on three inter-related pillars:

The links between Research and curriculum are clear, but since heritage is so closely linked with society, Dhakira’s philosophy is rooted in the belief that neither research nor curriculum development can be developed without the inclusion of a social/outreach component. This is reflected in the center’s research and in the heritage studies academic programs.

Signature program

Dhakira's signature Heritage Lab, in which researchers, educators, and community stakeholders are brought together, is designed as Accretional Synergy Hubs. Through thematic research clusters and focused research questions, Dhakira creates interdisciplinary workspaces that allow researchers to bridge differences in disciplinary approaches and research techniques across multiple fields in the Sciences, Arts and Humanities, and Social Sciences.

While projects exist as individual entities within themes, they are linked by embedding them in curriculum and research activities blended with the outreach/network component. This combination forms the core of Dhakira’s HeritageLab methodological approach.

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