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

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 innovative 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 outlets.

Follow James on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, ResearchGate, 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
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

Major prizes and awards

Citizens for Melbourne: Bates Smart Award for Architecture in the Media (Advocacy Award), Victorian Chapter, Australian Institute of Architects, 2020.
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: July 2022.