James Lesh is an historian specialising in heritage conservation. He is motivated by the potential for history and heritage to enhance cities, places and society.

His research interests include the history and theory of heritage conservation; urban and public history; statutory heritage planning, law and policy; urban development and renewal; placemaking and place attachment; modernism and postmodernism; and research methods.

He has published C19th and C20th urban histories with a focus on Australia and Melbourne. Topics have included the Australian heritage movement, skyscrapers, modernism and public art. Places have included Cremorne Pleasure Gardens, Federation Square, Moreland, Queen Victoria Market and Rialto Towers.

In his heritage activities, James adopts original methodologies and evidence-based approaches: for both traditional (historic and aesthetic) and evolving (social and sustainability) heritage values. He advocates for innovative modes of heritage practice addressing the future needs of our cities and societies.

James publishes widely and is author of the blog heritage.city. He also contributes to public and industry heritage debates. He has provided commentary to ABC Radio National, ABC Radio Melbourne, The Age, Herald Sun, 3AW Radio, The Conversation, Foreground, ArchitectureAU and other media outlets.

Follow James on Instagram, LinkedIn, Google Scholar, ORCID, or by subscribing to his blog heritage.city.

Research Affiliations

Deakin University (2022–)
University of Melbourne (2020–22, 2014–19)
University of Sydney (2019–2020)
King’s College London (2016–2021)

University Teaching

James is a Lecturer in Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies at Deakin University. He has previously taught at the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney.

Professional Affiliations

Association of Critical Heritage Studies
Australian Historical Association
Australasian Urban History / Planning History Group: Digital Editor
Citizens for Melbourne: Co-Founder
Commonwealth Heritage Forum: Australian Representative
ICOMOS: Full International Member, Australian chapter
National Trust of Australia (Victoria): Heritage Advocacy Committee
Professional Historians Association: Professional Historian
Provenance (Public Record Office of Victoria Journal): Editorial Board
Society of Architectural Historians Australia & New Zealand

Major prizes and awards

Victorian Community History Award, “Report on the place name: Moreland”.
Citizens for Melbourne: Bates Smart Award for Architecture in the Media (Advocacy Award), Victorian Chapter, Australian Institute of Architects.
Australian Postgraduate Award, University of Melbourne.
Australian Bicentennial Scholarship, King’s College London.
Principal’s Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement, Queen Mary University of London.
AGL Shaw Summer Research Fellowship, State Library of Victoria.


Doctor of Philosophy, University of Melbourne
Master of Arts, University of London
Bachelor of Arts with Honours, University of Melbourne
Bachelor of Commerce, University of Melbourne

Last updated: March 2023.