Dr Diana Vonnak

Research Fellow

History Stirling

Dr Diana Vonnak

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About me

About me

I am a heritage scholar trained in social anthropology. My work focuses on how heritage institutions and professionals work in contexts of crisis, armed conflict and rapid political change. I am interested in the changing division of labour between states, international actors and different non-state actors in negotiating the recognition, management and protection of heritage; in the afterlife of political projects and the public negotiation of state collapse, independence and the dissolution of empires. Since 2014 I have been working predominantly in Ukraine, but I have also worked in the Indian Himalayas, the UK and across Central and Eastern Europe.

Originally from Hungary, I was trained in Germany and in the UK. As a postgraduate student I worked for the Durham Energy Institute researching social discourses around sustainable energy and vernacular architecture in Ladakh. During my doctorate, I was a junior research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, and an affiliate researcher at Vienna University’s Doktoratskolleg Galizien. I obtained my PhD at Durham University in 2020. My research, supervised by Thomas Yarrow, explored the changing role of the state in the heritage sector in Ukraine, the growing significance of European capital, expertise and discourses in the heritage sector, and the stakes of cultural politics in the aftermath of the Maidan revolution.

Prior to joining Stirling in 2023, I was a teaching fellow in public anthropology at UCL, then a postdoctoral researcher at the Russian department at the University of St Andrews. I am an affiliate researcher at the Centre for the Urban History of East-Central Europe, a research NGO in Lviv. I am also a member of Invisible University of Ukraine, a transnational educational initiative led by Central European University in Vienna.

In addition to my academic work I have been involved in applied research projects (H2020, Creative Europe, Urban Innovative Action), mostly in relation to Jewish heritage, including drone surveys and capacity building programs for municipal authorities.


heritage regimes; heritage at war; political economy; Cold War; memory politics; institutional ethnography; museum studies; decolonisation

Outputs (6)


Book Review

Vonnák D (2017) Lafrenz Samuels, Kathryn & Trinidad Rico (eds). Heritage keywords: rhetoric and redescription in cultural heritage. xx, 309 pp., map, tables, illus., bibliogrs. Boulder: Univ. Press of Colorado, 2015. £28.84 (paper). Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 23 (3), pp. 634-635. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.12665

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