Tom Corcoran

Bio-cultural Diversity &

Cultural Heritage Conservationist

Humanitarian & Development Specialist


I centre my work on three key areas that expand from the conservation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, traditional artisanal and craft skills to the environmental links between nature and culture. Geographically, I work in remote and challenging regions of the world where traditional ways of life are under threat, from development, conflict or climate change.  It is always challenging for minorities to have their way of life maintained, understood and respected particularly in the face of displacement. 

  • I work on vernacular architecture, working closely with traditional artisans and craft folk in the conservation of their intangible and tangible cultural heritage and way of life. 

  • I work to highlight and strengthen the links between traditional communities their biocultural and linguistic diversity, the connections to nature, stories and ancestry. 

  • I work closely with traditional communities throughout the journey of displacement to document and develop projects that enable the conservation of traditional knowledge and ways of living.



My work explores the knowledge, biological, linguistic and cultural diversity, oral traditions, and the tangible and intangible heritage of traditional communities.  This line of inquiry and engagement is termed "biocultural anthropology". My unique background and experience developed through decades of working with traditional, indigenous, displaced and stateless minorities has been strengthened not only by my studies and work in cultural heritage and humanitarian environments but also through my own personal journey as an immigrant and a traditional artisan for over 30 years.  I see myself as an astute observer and hands-on participant, listening, seeing, hearing and feeling data. It enables me to explore the hidden meanings and patterns of social, cultural, economic and environmental needs and behaviours that form the foundation of traditional societies and the story of the human spirit.

My goal is to understand the links not just between communities, culture, shelter the lived environment but more deeply into gender, youth, diversity, age, language, the ways of life and living within a broader cultural context. Through my projects, I aim to determine the key, often unarticulated ways of meeting the critical cultural traditional values and needs of communities that allows outsiders to understand how and where to engage. I immerse myself in the everyday lives and contexts of the people I work alongside. 

Through deep ethnographic engagements and analysis, insights occur as a reflection of a more extensive system of values, beliefs, symbols and behaviours. I use project-specific techniques in my research as every project is different when it comes to developing a bio-cultural or cultural heritage understanding.  My methods and techniques put traditional yarning and observations at the core of my research developing evidence based projects.  This further extends to film and still photography, journey mapping, video diaries, community sketching, craft, artisanal and bio-cultural active yarning. I make strategic recommendations, develop projects, strategies, develop traditional products and engage in advocacy and awareness, delivering insights into ways to benefit the communities I work alongside. 

Mtendeli Camp, Tanzania
Sumatra, Indonesia
Nduta refugee camp, Tanzania
Mazar-el-Sharif, Afghanistan
Bamyan, Afghanistan
Badghis, Afghanistan
Sumatra, Indonesia
Gamaran Forest, Indonesia
Gamaran Forest, Indonesia
Gamaran Forest, Indonesia
Lubuk Alung, Sumatra, Indonesia
Gamaran Protected Forest, Indonesia