Author Archive

Recovering lost species…

Friday, September 18th, 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

Thursday, September 17th, 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

Sunday, September 13th, 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?

Tuesday, August 25th, 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

Tuesday, August 18th, 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

The battle for the future

Monday, August 17th, 2020

Reading Jenny Andersson and Erik Westholm’s 2019 book Slaget om Framtiden (The Battle for the Future), it is striking that they argue that collaboration in future studies with partners in society is a liability rather than an asset. 

Andersson and Westholm claim that specific economic, industrial or political interests of partners in society create conflicts of interest which make it impossible to conduct free research and reach independent conclusions.

Here is a film where they present their research (in Swedish):

However in my experience it is precisely the other way around to what Andersson and Westholm claim. From collaboration with non-academic partners I have learned a lot on how to think various futures, how to approach and address them, and not the least what practical challenges there are to be considered. This has made our research conclusions not only more applicable and relevant in society but also academically stronger in their content.

Memory Portals

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

Our evocative visualisations of Öland 2050 are now part of the digital exhibition “Memory Portals” (13 July-1 November 2020). Click on the image to enter!

Heritage Futures – the book

Friday, July 31st, 2020

Preservation of natural and cultural heritage is often said to be something that is done for the future, or on behalf of future generations, but the precise relationship of such practices to the future is rarely reflected upon. The volume Heritage Futures draws on research undertaken over four years (2015-2019) by an interdisciplinary, international team of 16 researchers and more than 25 partner organisations to explore the role of heritage and heritage-like practices in building future worlds.

This large and collaborative project (directed by Rodney Harrison) lies behind our UNESCO Chair. The main results are presented in this book, which is available both in print and in free open access.

Heritage Futures. Comparative Approaches to Natural and Cultural Heritage Practices

by Rodney Harrison, Caitlin DeSilvey, Cornelius Holtorf, Sharon Macdonald, Nadia Bartolini, Esther Breithoff, Harald Fredheim, Antony Lyons, Sarah May, Jennie Morgan, and Sefryn Penrose, with contributions by Gustav Wollentz and Anders Högberg.

568 pages, 188 colour illustrations

Open access (pdf) free | 978-1-78735-600-9
Paperback £35.00 | 978-1-78735-601-6
Hardback £50.00 | 978-1-78735-602-3

28 July 2020,

The Futures Game

Friday, July 17th, 2020

Summer pleasures in the park: members and friends of the UNESCO Chair play the Futures Game, creating imaginative stories about alternative heritage futures.

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)