SDG 11 – week in Sweden!

20 October, 2020

This week, Ulrika Söderström and Cornelius Holtorf attend the national SDG 11-week organised by FORMAS, the Swedish research council for sustainable development.

Sustainable Development Goal 11 is about Sustainable Cities and Communities. Within this goal, Target 11.4 aims to “strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage”. 

In one session (on 20 October), National Architect Helena Bjarnegård discussed the significance of urban planning by reminding us that a building may stand for a hundred years but an urban environment may survive for as much as a millennium. This is where heritage futures become important – how do we plan the cultural heritage for hundreds of years into the future?

Managing Heritage in Times of Crisis

17 October, 2020

The ICOMOS 6ISCs Joint Meeting “Advancing Risk Management for the Shared Future” was held virtually on 17 October 2020, assembling ca 100 participants from around the world, with more being able to watch the recording afterwards. The aim of the meeting was to develop risk management for cultural heritage.

Cornelius Holtorf contributed with a paper on “The Significance of Managing Heritage Processes in Times of Crisis” in which he argued that risk management strategies should give more attention to managing processes and practices of heritage.

The paper is available as an oral presentation and in written form as part of the meeting’s proceedings.

Message in a bottle to the future?

9 October, 2020

Johan Joelsson and Jonatan Jacobsson published a beautiful book of illustrated essays entitled “Message in a bottle to the future: how we preserve our traces for 100,000 years“.

Surprisingly many of the texts and images engage with cultural and natural heritage that is directly relevant to heritage futures. There are essays about the Memory of Mankind, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the use of DNA Storage to preserve digital data, the remains of the city of Pripyat near Chernobyl, the destroyed Kiruna Town Hall which recently had to give way to the city’s mining operations,  and – not the least – the question of long-term memory of repositories of nuclear waste (which includes interviews with Anders and Cornelius).

Authenticity and Reconstruction

5 October, 2020

Authenticity and the reconstruction of cultural heritage are today on the top of the agenda of heritage studies. They reemerged in the aftermath of natural disasters and human conflicts resulting in destructions of cultural heritage, such as the recent military conflicts in Syria.

Can, and, indeed, should, destruction be undone? Does the reconstruction of cultural heritage always lie in the best interests of the local population? How can heritage best contribute to future-making? What is the relationship between the values of a given heritage and the circumstances of its creation or re-creation?

The articles in a new special issue on Authenticity and Reconstruction of the International Journal of Cultural Property, edited by Cornelius Holtorf, explore some of these issues:

The papers are combining current thinking in different disciplines (psychology, architecture, urban planning, historic preservation, and archaeology) with practical examples from around the world. They derive from the pilot workshop of the ICOMOS University Forum, titled “A Contemporary Provocation: Reconstructions as Tools of Future-making“. Held on 13–15 March 2017 at ICOMOS’s international head- quarters in Paris, France, the workshop was co-organized by Cornelius Holtorf (Linnaeus University, Sweden), Loughlin Kealy (University College Dublin, Ireland), Toshiyuki Kono (ICOMOS/Kyushu University, Japan), and Marie-Laure Lavenir (ICOMOS, France). As an event of the ICOMOS University Forum, its aim was to stimulate dialogue between professional heritage consultants and academic heritage experts.

Various activities July – September 2020

1 October, 2020

Annalisa Bolin and Cornelius Holtorf co-organized (with V. Arora and Q. Ma) a session on “Reconstructing Reconstruction: Examining Meanings, Uses, and Policies” at the 5th Bi-Annual Meeting of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies (26-30 August 2020), featuring among others the papers

  • Cornelius Holtorf “Reconstructing Heritage Processes”
  • Annalisa Bolin “Old Heritage in the New Rwanda: Development, Progress, and Genocide Materiality”

Sarah May co-organized (with E. Kryder-Reid) a session on “Toxic Heritage at the 5th Bi-Annual Meeting of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies (26-30 August 2020), attracting ca 35 participants and featuring among others the papers

  • Sarah May “Containment and Control: Toxic Heritage and liminal legacies”
  • Cornelius Holtorf “The Future Heritage of Toxic Waste”

Cornelius Holtorf took part in a UN75 Dialogue informing future priorities for the United Nations on the occasion of its 75th Anniversary, held at the 5th Bi-Annual Meeting of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies (27 August 2020).

Anders Högberg and Cornelius Holtorf took part in the Kick-Off Meeting of the Expert Groups under the Working Party on Information, Data and Knowledge Management at the Nuclear Energy Agency, OECD (15 September 2020)

Anders Högberg and Cornelius Holtorf took part in the Kick-Off Meeting of the Expert Group on Awareness Preservation after Repository Closure under the Working Party on Information, Data and Knowledge Management at the Nuclear Energy Agency, OECD (16 September 2020)

Cornelius Holtorf participated in a one-day expert workshop on “Cultural Heritage and Climate Change: New Challenges and Perspectives for Research“, organised jointly by the European Commission’s Joint Programming Initiatives on Cultural Heritage and on Climate (17 September 2020).

Cornelius Holtorf participated in a Webinar on Integrating Heritage into the SDGs ‘Inclusive, Safe, Resilient and Sustainable Cities (SDG11) organised by the ICOMOS SDGs Working Group (24 September 2020).

Recovering lost species…

18 September, 2020

I have been reading a wonderful study by Dolly Jørgensen on Recovering Lost Species in the Modern Age (MIT Press, 2019). The book traces historical connections between emotions and conservation, in other words (as the subtitle has it) “histories of longing and belonging”. 

Here is an extract from her concluding chapter:

I would posit that the same applies for cultural heritage at large. Conservation of cultural heritage is motivated and driven by emotions and a sense of longing for what the heritage represents. In that sense, saving the heritage at the same time means to save ourselves…

Post-Pandemic Tourism Development

17 September, 2020

Cornelius Holtorf and Anders Högberg (among others) are going to work in a new project funded by Kamprad Family Foundation 2020-2021.

The project is entitled “Post-Pandemic Tourism Development: Navigating Uncertainty in the Visitor Economy” and seeks to study how stakeholders in the visitor economy in and around Kalmar make sense of the uncertainty induced by the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We will engage stakeholders in the visitor economy in a forward-looking process to open horizons that envision the present crisis as a chance to work towards a more sustainable future.

The project will also kick-start regular collaboration between academic researchers and key stakeholders in the local visitor economy. At a university level, the project will help establish an interdisciplinary and cross-faculty working group that establishes collaboration on issues of mutual interest between researchers in cultural heritage and archaeology on the one hand, and researchers in business studies and tourism research on the other hand.

Impact of external developments on the future of heritage

13 September, 2020

In 2012, the European Foresight Platform, a network building program supported by the European Commission,organized in Brussels, Belgium, a one-day workshop with a total of 13 participants on The Future of Cultural Heritage.

The aim of this gathering was to identify trends and drivers of change that may impact upon cultural heritage in Europe, in order to support strategic thinking in the heritage sector concerning the creation, management, preservation, promotion, use and funding of cultural heritage in the coming decades.

The resulting report contains an outline of a number of relevant trends and developments in society, technology, economy, ecology and politics and a discussion of their potential significance and relevant implications for cultural heritage. Interesting!

Post-Corona Archaeology: Creating a New Normal?

25 August, 2020

Cornelius Holtorf presented a keynote lecture on “Post-Corona Archaeology: Creating a New Normal?” at the Opening Ceremony of the 2020 Virtual 26th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists on 25 August 2020. In front of an audience of several hundred archaeologists from Europe and around the world he proposed three lessons:

  1. Let’s take the future seriously and do our best to ensure that archaeology actually contributes to sustainable development that will benefit future generations in concrete ways.
  2. Let’s go beyond the notion of cultural diversity and focus on what people shared and indeed share, promoting trust, solidarity and collaboration between human beings on this planet.
  3. Let’s realise more often the value of culture, cultural heritage and archaeological practice to be inclusive and bring people together, promoting peace among humans both in society and between societies.

The lecture is now available online at (starts at 48:30)

Prefiguration and World Heritage

18 August, 2020

Now published in free open access:

Forum Kritische Archäologie Vol. 9, 2020
Streitraum: Heritage Futures

  • Cornelius Holtorf
    Heritage Futures, Prefiguration and World Heritage
  • Trinidad Rico
    Heritage Time, the Next Zeitgeist. A Response to Cornelius Holtorf’s “Heritage Futures, Prefiguration and World Heritage”
  • Hilmar Schäfer
    The Consecration of World Heritage Sites – Practice and Critique
  • Lewis Borck
    Seeds to Trees: Connecting the Means and Ends in Heritage Management. A Reply to Holtorf