Valeria Lo Iacono Symonds

Academic Associate, University of Exeter

I hold a PhD on dance and cultural heritage in Cardiff Metropolitan University, a BSc (Honours) in Preservation of Cultural Heritage from Tuscia University (Viterbo, Italy) and an MA in Tourism Management and Economics from Ca' Foscari University (Venice, Italy).

My PhD project is inspired by the 2003 UNESCO Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage, but criticises the suitability of separating cultural heritage into tangible and intangible forms. The case study for this PhD is Egyptian raqs sharqi (commonly known as belly dance). Raqs sharqi is examined in a way that centralises how such forms of heritage are embodied and transmitted by people via their practices, experiences and traditions. Raqs sharqi originated in the Middle East, but it is now practised across the world, hence I also investigate transcultural interactions and hybridism in dance and culture.

I specialise in qualitative research methods (particularly interviews, dance analysis and online ethnography) and systematic literature reviews in the humanities. Areas of interest include ethnochoreology, dance anthropology, cultural hybridism, transculturality, cosmopolitanism, sociological theories of the body and embodiment, cultural heritage (tangible and intangible).


  • 2019–present
    Research Associate, University of Exeter
  • 2019–2019
    Postdoctoral Research Fellow , University of Exeter
  • 2017–2018
    Teaching Fellow, University of Bath
  • 2014–2017
    Hourly Paid Lecturer, Cardiff Metropolitan University


  • 2019 
    Cardiff Metropolitan University, PhD in Dance and Cultural Hheritage
  • 2001 
    Ca' Foscari University, Venice, Master in Tourism Management and Economics
  • 1999 
    Universita' degli Studi della Tuscia (Viterbo, Italy), First Class Honours Degree in Preservation of Cultural Heritage


  • 2018
    Intangible Cultural Heritage Beyond Borders: Egyptian Bellydance (Raqs Sharqi) as a Form of Transcultural Heritage, Journal of Intercultural Studies
  • 2017
    Exploring an Absent Presence: Wayfinding as an Embodied Sociocultural Experience, Sociological Research Online
  • 2016
    Skype as a Tool for Qualitative Research Interviews, Sociological Research Online
  • 2016
    Beyond Binarism Exploring a Model of Living Cultural Heritage for Dance, Dance Research

Professional Memberships

  • International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM)
  • Laban Guild for Movement and Dance
  • Tourism Society