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About Matthew J. Hill

I am a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Heritage and Society at UMass Amherst, a multidisciplinary research, teaching and policy initiative to craft new approaches to cultural heritage conservation and communication internationally. My research examines the use of cultural heritage as a political resource for nation-building, economic development, and urban revitalization in the Caribbean and Latin America as well as North America. I have published and conducted extensive research on UNESCO World Heritage sites in Cuba and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, and teach courses on international heritage policy and urban heritage, as well as the Caribbean and social theory at UMass Amherst.
I also conduct applied work for the National Park Service on contested cultural landscapes in U.S. National Parks. One project explores the creation of Mt. Rushmore as a national icon and ‘Shrine of Democracy’ in the context of early 20th century Westward expansion, exploring how the site functioned as a ‘contact zone’, in which Anglo-European settler visions were disrupted historically by local and indigenous forms of knowledge that reassert the indigenous heritage of the site as a part of the sacred Black Hills.
In addition, I am involved in the development of an interdisciplinary NSF grant on urban green space governance in post-Industrial New England cities. In particular, this research examines how the management of urban green spaces (urban parks, natural areas, community gardens) affects people’s use of and attachment to natural areas, influencing biodiversity and practices of environmental stewardship. This interdisciplinary research seeks to link research in the areas of urban ecology, urban greening and place/heritage-making as part of an urban environmental agenda, while broadening our understanding of sustainability.
As an applied anthropologist, I have also worked with city governments on the sustainable redevelopment of historic park systems and downtowns. My clients have included cities, public parks, foundations, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit organizations, including Philadelphia's Center City District, the nonprofit technology provider Tech Impact, and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation.
I graduated from the University of Chicago and hold a Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology.


Present Sr. Research Fellow, Center for Heritage & Society, University of Massachusetts - Amherst Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning
Present Associate Director, Center for Heritage and Society, University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Curriculum Vitae

Contact Information

Gordon Hall Room 222
418 North Pleasant St.
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst MA 01003


Articles (1)

Books (1)

Contributions to Books (3)

Presentations (5)