Future consciousness in museums

11 January, 2023

Nordisk Museologi published a paper by Anders Högberg, Gustav Wollentz, and Cornelius Holtorf on future consciousness in Swedish county museums.

Abstract
This study investigates how managers and employees at County Museums in Sweden think about, work with, and relate to the future in their daily practice. We examined which tools and routines the museums employ to work concretely with different future perspectives. The study is thus about those forms of future consciousness that exist in the museums. The results show that the future is implicitly present but often remains unarticulated in the work of the museum. The museums work with short future perspectives which are often linked to concrete tasks or development work. The future perspectives at the museums are largely locked in the present or in a near future. Concrete tools, skills and routines to develop future consciousness are lacking. However, the results show that there is great interest and willingness among Swedish County Museums to implement tools, skills, and routines for a more developed engagement with futures.

Available in open access! (Full paper in Swedish only)

Högberg, Anders, Gustav Wollentz, and Cornelius Holtorf (2022) Framtidsmedvetande på museer. Några svenska länsmuseer i fokus. Nordisk Museologi 34 (2), 5–22. 

Various activities October – December 2022

31 December, 2022

Cornelius Holtorf gave an invited keynote lecture entitled “The Future Through World Heritage” and ran a futures workshop, assisted by Professor Peter Stone, UNESCO Chair on Cultural Property Protection and Peace, Newcastle University, UK, for an audience of ca 80 managers and other officials (incl 15 online) of the 33 World Heritage properties in the UK, for the 2022 Annual Conference of World Heritage UK at Jodrell Bank World Heritage Site, UK (4 October 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf gave an invited keynote lecture at KULTURKRAFT 2022, a major cultural conference in Scandinavia, held in Copenhagen, Denmark. He talked to an audience of almost 200 professionals on “Culture as transformation how culture and heritage can address the future” (7 October 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf took part in a meeting with representatives of the Office of the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO to discuss mutual collaboration in the future (10 October 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf attended a webinar “Time Travels to the Future” organised by the Bridging Ages network for applied heritage and timetravels, with 15 participants from Germany, South Africa, Sweden, Tanzania, and Turkey (10 October 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf discussed collaboration regarding heritage futures and indicators for culture with Dr Jyoti Hosagrahar, Deputy Director, World Heritage Center, UNESCO (17 October 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf presented on his work priorities and current developments in ‘heritage futures’ and ‘future archaeology’ for the ca 10 members of the Committee on Sustainability and Strategy at Kalmar Municipality (17 October 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf introduced the Knowledge Cube on Campus Kalmar, Linnaeus University, about the work of the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures, for ca 25 participants of a meeting of the Network for Sustainability and Environmental Guidance at Swedish universities (20 October 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf presented a talk entitled “Does humanity need culture and heritage for addressing the climate crisis? (Update on a global movement)” for 20+ participants at the first Climate Crisis Dialogue held at Linnaeus University, Campus Kalmar, Sweden (25 October 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf was interviewed by Kate Golembiewski for an article entitled “Can Glowing ‘Ray Cats’ Save Humanity?” published in Atlas Obscura https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/nuclear-waste-ray-cat-solution (25 October 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf presented a lecture on “Cultural Heritage, Wellbeing, and the Future” for 20+ students attending the course “Heritage-Based Post-War Urban Reconstruction in Ukraine” organised by the Invisible University for Ukraine at Central European University (26 October 2022)

Cornelius Holtorf was interviewed for a new exhibition at Steinzeitdorf Dithmarschen in Albersdorf, Germany (27 October 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf participated in a regular World Heritage Council meeting for the World Heritage property Agricultural Landscape of Southern Öland representing Linnaeus University, held in Mörbylånga, Sweden (28 October 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf offered feeback to a project initiative by Climate Students LNU entitled “Sustainable weelbeing through reduction of carbon footprint at higher education institutions” (29 October 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf provided written feedback to a draft of the document “Wayfinder Heritage: Applying Resilience Thinking to Long-Term Planning of World Heritage Properties”, resulting from the ICOMOS-IUCN Connecting Practice Project (29 October 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf contributed to a UNESCO survey on “Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage and climate change” (2 November 2022)

Cornelius Holtorf presented about a field archaeology of the future for ca 20 participants in the post-excavation seminar of the Gamla Skogsby training dig at Linnaeus University, Sweden (3 November 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf attended virtually a plenary panel on “Reimagining our Futures Together: Insights from Futures Literacy”, chaired by Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO, bringing together, among others, three UNESCO Chairs of the UNESCO Futures Literacy Network, and held as part of the UNESCO conference to mark the 30th anniversary of the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme (4 November 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf attended virtually some of the conference “50 Years World Heritage Convention: Times of Peace, Conflict and War” discussing the future of the World Heritage Convention held at the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, Germany (4 November 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf gave a presentation entitled “Why sustainably managing the past requires anticipating the future” at the Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Trento, Italy (7 November 2022).

Ulrika Söderström presented a lunch lecture on “En gestaltad livsmiljö: Kulturarv som resurs för en socialt hållbar stadsutveckling för framtiden”, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Linnaeus University, Sweden (14 November 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf presented a lecture entitled “The Future Through UNESCO World Heritage” for almost 20 researchers participating in the University of Portsmouth Research Futures Webinar Series (16 November 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf gave a lecture entitled “Nuclear waste and other cultural heritage of the future” for 60+ students and researchers arranged by the Flagship Initiative Transforming Cultural Heritage and the Heidelberg Centre Culture Heritage, University of Heidelberg, Germany (24 November 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf held a seminar on “Heritage Futures” for students at various levels at the Heidelberg Centre for Cultural Heritage, University of Heidelberg, Germany (25 November 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf made suggestions for bits of text to be added to the Periodic Report (Third Cycle) of the World Heritage Property “Agricultural Landscape of Southern Öland”, Sweden (27 December 2022).

 

AI on Heritage Futures

23 December, 2022

I asked the Open AI Chat what Heritage Futures was. Here is the response:

Heritage futures is a field of study that examines the ways in which cultural heritage is imagined, constructed, and represented in the present, with a view to understanding the possibilities and challenges for heritage in the future. It is an interdisciplinary field that draws on a range of disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, history, and cultural studies, and is concerned with the social, political, and cultural dimensions of heritage.

Heritage futures is interested in the ways in which heritage is shaped by contemporary forces, such as globalization, digitalization, and climate change, and how these forces will impact the future of heritage. It also considers the ways in which heritage can be used to shape the future, for example through the development of heritage-based tourism, the use of heritage in education and public engagement, and the role of heritage in shaping national and global identities.

Heritage futures seeks to explore the diverse and often conflicting visions of the future of heritage, and to examine the role of heritage in shaping and reflecting power relations. It also aims to consider the social and ethical implications of heritage practices, and to identify strategies for the responsible and sustainable management of heritage in the future.

When I asked the same question again, I got this slightly different response:

Heritage futures is a field of study that examines the ways in which cultural heritage is imagined, planned, and managed in the present in order to shape the future. It is concerned with the ways in which heritage is used to shape and influence the future development of a society or community, and with the ways in which future developments may impact the heritage of a place or group.

Heritage futures involves the development of strategies and plans for the preservation, management, and interpretation of cultural heritage in the future, as well as the consideration of the ethical and social implications of these plans. It also involves the examination of the roles that different stakeholders, including governments, community groups, and individual citizens, play in shaping the future of cultural heritage.

Heritage futures is interdisciplinary, drawing on fields such as anthropology, sociology, history, and cultural studies, and is concerned with the social and political dimensions of heritage. It aims to provide a framework for understanding and addressing the complex and dynamic issues surrounding the conservation and interpretation of cultural heritage in the present and in the future.

Then I asked why Heritage Futures was important:

Heritage futures is important because cultural heritage is an important part of our shared history and identity. It helps us understand the past, and it can also shape the future development of a society or community. By examining the ways in which heritage is imagined, planned, and managed in the present, heritage futures helps to ensure that cultural heritage is preserved and protected for future generations.

In addition, heritage futures helps to address the complex and dynamic issues surrounding the conservation and interpretation of cultural heritage. This includes considering the ethical and social implications of heritage management, as well as the roles that different stakeholders play in shaping the future of cultural heritage.

Heritage futures is also important because it helps to promote a sense of shared history and identity within a society or community. By valuing and preserving cultural heritage, we can help to foster a sense of belonging and connection to the past, which can have positive impacts on social cohesion and community well-being.

Overall, heritage futures is important because it helps to protect and preserve our cultural heritage for future generations, and because it plays a key role in shaping the future development of a society or community.

Amazing, with such clever technology!

Is the future a luxury?

21 December, 2022

Sarah May writes: I keep hearing people suggest they don’t have time for the future. Or that other people don’t have time for the future.  I hear the classist suggestion that people who are struggling in the present, working hard, don’t think of the future. Some of the strongest futures thinking comes from people who are marginalised, because they need it. It’s the wealthy who can afford not to think of the future, or to do so poorly.

Read more in her new blog entry here.

Chilean Futures

18 December, 2022

Cornelius Holtorf visited colleagues at the Instituto de Investigaciones Arqueológicas y Museo at the Universidad Católica del Norte in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

Together with a group of indigenous community members interested in utilising their natural resources and supporting crucial land claims, we went into the field to survey precolonial (Inca) remains of irrigated terraces at more than 4,000m altitude. Water supply is still of great importance for any kind of agriculture in this desert, one of the driest places on Earth (although a little cloudy on the day of our visit!).

Inca irrigated terraces for agriculture

As a ‘future archaeologist’ I am interested, on the one hand, in applying archaeology to improve people’s lives in the near (short) future. This can mean strengthening claims to land entitlements after 2024 when the current terms will expire.


Modern water channel

On the other hand, the specific circumstances also evoke a more distant (long) future: indigenous communities have been negotiating considerable and long-lasting monetary compensation from mining companies operating on their land or nearby and affecting their water supply and living conditions. The lithium being mined, in turn, is essential for the current green transition to carbon-neutral and sustainable technologies (such es electric cars) elsewhere in the world.

Mining in northern Chile


In such complex situations, what we need to make the best decisions is enhanced futures literacy: how can we escape presentism and imagine a wide range of future possibilities while making the best decisions for living people and their descendants, especially when they are poor and marginalised?

Looking back at World Futures Day

13 December, 2022

Cornelius Holtorf attended the proceedings of the first UNESCO World Futures Day at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 2 December 2022.

The full day programme featured a meet and great session for some 30 UNESCO Chairs and other foresight experts associated with the Futures Literacy Network at UNESCO, a panel chaired by Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for the Social and Human Sciences, and a reception, among others.

Among the highlights were the following quotes used during the day: 

“The Future is not the goal but only an excuse, a means, to think better for the world”, Gabriela Ramos, ADG for SSH

“We live for the future, that’s where the action is”, Patrick Noack, Director Dubai Future Foundation, UAE

“I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present.” “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”, Mahatma Gandhi, India

“Focus on it being a world worth saving rather than try saving the world”, Geci Karuri-Sebina, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa

 

 

How can we engage with temporal interculturalities?

7 December, 2022

Cornelius Holtorf organized and chaired a roundtable entitled “How can we engage with temporal interculturalities?” attended by an audience of 30+ participating in the Bi-annual conference of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies held at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago de Chile (5 Dec 2022).

https://www.achs2022santiago.com/web/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Round-Table-2.pdf

Bi-annual conference of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies held at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago de Chile (5 Dec 2022)

Bi-annual conference of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies held at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago de Chile (5 Dec 2022)

Speakers: Qian Gao, Sarah May, Luz Endere, Dante Angelo

Coordinator: Cornelius Holtorf
Bi-annual conference of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies held at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago de Chile (5 Dec 2022)

World Futures Day 2 December 2022

2 December, 2022

Let the future begin today – the importance of futures literacy is highlighted on the new international day “World Futures Day”

Today, December 2, the international day “World Futures Day” is celebrated for the first time. The day has been instituted by UNESCO to draw attention to an area that is growing in importance – futures literacy. Read the interview with Cornelius Holtorf (In Swedish) at the website of the Swedish National Commission of UNESCO here

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Swedish UNESCO Chairs meet

29 November, 2022

Cornelius Holtorf participated in a national network meeting of Swedish UNESCO Chairs held at the National Commission for UNESCO in Stockholm (29 Nov 2022).

Five UNESCO Chairs in Sweden

Among the participants were four other UNESCO Chairs, the Chair and the General-Secretary as well as key staff of the National Commission for UNESCO. We presented our current work for each other and discussed future collaboration nationally, in the Nordic countries, with the Swedish and Nordic delegations to UNESCO in Paris, and globally.

International Archaeology & Digital Humanities workshop in Kalmar

28 November, 2022

Emily Hanscam recently organised an international workshop in Kalmar, as part of her project Digital Excavations which is funded by the LNU Digital Transformations Knowledge Environment. Participants from the UK and the Netherlands joined Emily, Alisa Lincke and Ahmed Taiye Mohammed from LNU to discuss approaches to applying the digital humanities to the study of archaeological thought. Digital Excavations is a pilot study investigating the persistent problem with continued nationalist discourse appearing in narratives about the past, looking in the first instance at how archaeological discourse developed and evolved over decades by analysing the corpus of Antiquity, one of the oldest peer reviewed archaeology journals.