Author Archive

Various activities April – June 2020

Friday, July 3rd, 2020

Cornelius Holtorf took part in the Annual Meeting of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) Sweden, raising the question of how ICOMOS as a global NGO in the cultural sector might respond to the corona crisis (16 April 2020)

Cornelius Holtorf participated in a high-level digital conference on Agenda 2030 – sustainable transformation on a scientific basis, organised by FORMAS, Sweden’s funding council for sustainable development. The conference proved to be directly relevant to the work of our UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures. During the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden Isabella Lövin acknowledged that remembering is important and that “we need to take a longer time perspective”. Ulrika Modéer, Assistant Director General of the UN, emphasised the need and a growing readiness in many countries to collaborate globally for addressing global challenges. Eeva Furman, one of the authors of the Global Development Sustainable Report (2019), suggested that culture has an important role to play in achieving sustainable development. Several other prominent speakers mentioned the need to support research that is interdisciplinary, collaborates between different sectors, produces other outcomes than only top-level publications, and is applicable in policy and practice, globally (4 May 2020).

Cornelius Holtorf presented a Masterclass on “How can heritage professionals respond to environmental change?” for the HERILAND College for Heritage Planning’s digital workshop  on  Changing Environments, bringing together ca 30 Ph.D. students and their supervisors as well as representatives of partner organisations, from Belgium, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom, and Sweden (11 May 2020).

Cornelius Holtorf presented the story behind the colouring book “Archaeology Today” for an international audience of about 20 attending a seminar during the National Archaeology Week dedicated this year to Archaeology in Society, held at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia (20 May 2020).

Cornelius Holtorf took part in the Virtual Opening and Streaming Festival associated with the major exhibition “Critical Zones. Observatories for Earthly Politics” curated by Bruno Latour and Peter Weigel (22-24 May 2020)

A Star Trek interpretation of the Future

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

A guest blog by Jesper de Raad:

Ever since I attended the Heritage Futures workshop ‘Thinking and Planning the Future in Heritage Management’ in Amsterdam in 2019 I regularly see examples of interesting ways on how we (currently) perceive the future.

A recent example is a ten second frame in Star Trek – Discovery. In the episode Such Sweet Sorrow: Part 2 we can spot the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, a very recognisable piece of our collective cultural heritage. In this particular picture, we can see how the present looks at the future. The Golden Gate Bridge, as cultural heritage, is still there but there is no need for automobiles as people can fly around in space ships. People are still dependable on solar energy though, which is produced by the panels on the bridge as depicted in this scene.

This is a way of thinking about the future which at the same time is very tied and bound to the present. We think with our current knowledge and mindset. We are only able to perceive the future through the present!

Jesper de Raad, contact:

An Archaeology for the Future

Sunday, May 31st, 2020

Archaeology is the study of the past in the present. But can it deal with the future too?

  • Which future(s) are archaeologists working for?
  • Which archaeological heritage will benefit future generations most?
  • How can archaeologists build capacity in futures thinking? 

Some thoughts on these issues have now been published by Cornelius Holtorf in Post-Classical Archaeologies vol 10. By reviewing some recent and current projects conducted at Linnaeus University in Sweden he shows that it is possible to engage actively and constructively with the future and consider benefits of archaeology for future societies.

Do we need a new world heritage?

Monday, May 25th, 2020

A contribution by Cornelius Holtorf and Annalisa Bolin for the blog Seeing the Woods of the Rachel Carson Centre has now been published, entitled


We argue that it is not surprising that many have started asking about the legacy that the “corona crisis” of 2020 is going to leave behind for the years and perhaps for decades to come. Seldom have the relations between present and future societies felt more relevant than during the present weeks…


The Future of the World (and Heritage)

Monday, May 18th, 2020

In a very insightful work, Jenny Andersson addressed the history of The Future of the World (2018), discussing Futurology, Futurists and The Struggle for the Post-Cold War Imagination.

It emerges that from the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s, future research was a frontier of the social sciences. According to Andersson, this was the heyday of the  ‘long term’ as a category of control and management. It was also the time of the 1964 Venice Charter and the 1972 World Heritage Convention, when heritage began to be managed for the long term. But then something happened:

Against a post-war notion of the future as the ‘long term’ stood a distinctly different idea of the future as a field of resistance, love, and imagination. According to the latter, the future was not a logical and foreseeable construct, but a domain of active human consciousness, transcendence, and being. As future studies somehow married futurology by the mid-1970s on and the different strands of future research came together in a dominant idea of expertise, it was this radical content that was lost. (original context)

Arguably, in the realm of heritage, this alternative future now lost was connected to stories about a heritage associated with early matriarchy, the Celtic druids and native ancestral wisdom.

Are these strands of heritage on the way back, now that climate change and other crises put the need for an alternative future back on the agenda? Do we still need World Heritage in the ‘long term’?

The need to remember COVID-19

Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

Neuroscientist and futurist Anders Sandberg has published an interesting argument about our moral duty to remember the lesson of COVID-19 for the benefit of future generations:

The Covid-19 pandemic … is a wake-up call. … [H]istorically we have adapted to trauma rather well. Maybe too well – we have a moral reason to ensure that we do not forget the harsh lessons we are learning now. 

What kind of lessons do we need to learn? The basic ones are what strategies work and do not work, whether in epidemiological strategy, social life or how to handle the experience personally. 

According to Sandberg, part of the solution may be the construction of monumental memorials:

In the end, we better build some hard-to-ignore monuments to the people who died or performed heroically, to shore up our collective memory. Li Wenliang may be a good symbolic martyr to remember (especially the key lesson about openness being necessary for a rapid response).

It is to a large degree a real moral choice whether Covid-19 becomes a warning shot that teaches us useful things for the time when a truly dangerous pathogen emerges (or is made) or just a massive distraction that is soon conveniently forgotten… until it is too late. Given the stakes, it matters to remember well.

But what does it matter “to remember well”, I would ask? No detailed message remains understandable and meaningful across generations, unless it is regularly being updated and translated into a new context.

The best message to transmit to the future may therefore be a meta-message:

  1. Keep the experts on essential issues!
  2. Listen to them!
  3. Vote for politicians who put human wellbeing first! 

I wonder who may be the right martyr to be memorialised for that message to be carried forward…

Culture and the COVID-19 pandemic

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

ICOMOS and partners in the Culture 2030 Goal campaign released a Statement on Culture and the COVID-19 pandemic which the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures has been endorsing.

Entitled ‘Ensuring culture fulfills its potential in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic‘, the statement reminds us that

“culture is both a source of inspiration and a means of realising our thoughts and ideas, that culture makes it possible to mend the social fabric, to forge new forms of solidarity, to create new spaces in which to draw the energy needed to meet together the intense challenges facing us.”

More information here.

From Corona Crisis to Heritage Futures

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

A virus has put the world on hold. Many individual human actions suddenly appear extremely small and insignificant in comparison with the unyielding might and relentless spread with which the SARS-CoV-2 virus is presently conquering Earth.

It is not surprising that many have started asking about the legacy that the ‘corona crisis’ of 2020 is going to leave behind for the years and perhaps for decades to come. Seldom have the relations between present and future societies felt more relevant than during the present weeks.

Read a commentary on the “corona crisis” from the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures. — Do we need a new kind of world heritage for the post-corona world?


Thursday, April 9th, 2020

Coronakrisen har gjort att många tänker lite mer på framtiden i dessa dagar. Alla våra egna planer har ändrats, många har tappat inkomster, vissa har inget jobb att återvända till, några har förlorat en anhörig eller vän.

Men hur har historien i stort påverkats? Vilka är konsekvenserna för kulturmiljön? Hur spelar Coronakrisen ihop med andra pågående förändringsprocesser så som klimatkrisen, urbanisering och den snabba digitala utvecklingen?

Och vad innebär förändring för ett Unesco världsarv som ska bevaras för framtiden lite extra?

I det här projektet har vi tagit fasta på år 2050 och visualiserat fem olika framtidsbilder som spekulerar hur världsarvet Södra Ölands odlingslandskap skulle kunna se ut då.

Hur kan framtiden se ut för ett odlingslandskap som befinner sig i kontinuerlig förändring? Vilken roll kan världsarvet spela i en framtid som på flera sätt inte liknar vår egen tid?

Öland 2050

Ett samarbete mellan Linnéuniversitetets Unescoprofessur i Heritage Futures och Mörbylånga kommun. En utställning kommer att resa runt Öland.

Projektgrupp: Daniel Lindskog (grafik), Gustav Wollentz (informationshämtning och text), Cornelius Holtorf (ledning)

Tack till Urban Ekstam, Birgitta Eriksson, Susanne Forslund, Roger Gustafsson, Anne Hamrin Simonsson, Niklas Holmgren, Pär Holmgren, Dave Karlsson, Rebecka Le Moine, Emma Rydnér och Ebbe Westergren. 





Walk’n’Talk with Ulrikke Voss

Saturday, April 4th, 2020

Here are two great sessions in which Cornelius Holtorf (about cultural heritage and heritage futures) and Annalisa Bolin (about identity-making and repatriation) walk & talk to Ulrikke Voss  (recorded on 20/21 Feb 2020)!