Author Archive

Future making aspects of heritage

Thursday, December 10th, 2020

Dr Sarah May, Senior Lecturer in Public History and Heritage at Swansea University, giving evidence to the Welsh government this morning – there will also be a transcript soon. Lots of interesting things came up and interesting that everyone accepted that we serve the present first and let the future make its own decisions, and that similarly we don’t need to be bound by the views of the past.

Sarah May UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures

Dr Sarah May UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures

Millennium trees and the lockdown

Tuesday, December 8th, 2020

A beautiful ‘heritage futures’ story by Sarah May.

Small commerations, heritage, pasts and futures intermingled.

Millennium trees and the lockdown

Tools for strategising for memory preservation over centuries and millennia – A new publication in the UNESCO SCEaR Newsletter

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

UNESCO Memory of the World Programme. Sub-Committee on Education and Research  SCEaR Newsletter 2020/1 (June).

Preserving Memory and Information on Heritage and on Unwanted Legacies – New Tools for Identifying Sustainable Strategies Prepare and Support Decision Making by Future Generations by Claudio Pescatore and Jonas Palm


“Future” is a notion that is not systematically developed in the heritage professions. Current management practice relies on the assumption that the necessary means will be made available and that the information will be as intelligible to people in the future as it was to those who left it originally or to those who re-worked it in the intervening time. For a variety of causes – natural and/or human – archives may disappear or be insufficient, records enabling the memory of why certain decisions were taken may be lost, the information still existing may not be intelligible, and funds may no longer be available for performing whatever action may be needed.  We cannot prevent those changes from happening, we can, however, seek to develop and implement strategies that maximize future societies’ chances to make their own decisions based on exploitable information especially in connection with legacies that we leave behind and that they will own for centuries and millennia to come. In the past 10 years progress has been accomplished in understanding how a durable, long-term preservation of Records, Knowledge and Memory (RK&M) strategy could be built. Guiding principles and practical action items have been also formulated in the context of sustainable development. This paper develops a set of tools that professionals can apply and further develop themselves to create ad-hoc catalogues of RK&M mechanisms and to identify how they could be combined best with one another in order to maximize the chances that the needed information can be passed on durably. The methodology that is described and the tools that are presented could help present-day professionals think and deal with the “future” in a more systematic, assured and reliable way.


Incorporating change – heritage and Covid-19

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

The world is in shock. Lives and economies are being shattered by an invisible enemy that has been brewing in bats for hundreds of thousands of years. From bats it passed on to another mammal – likely, the pangolin – and then, through wet markets or hunting or other, to Man.

Half of humankind is stuck at home.  Millions are still being infected; hospitals are overwhelmed. The dead are in the hundreds of thousands; hundreds of thousands more have died or are presently dying from lack of care of other health conditions. Morgues are beyond being full; proper funeral ceremonies cannot be held; spouses and friends are not allowed to visit their sick or give them the final farewell. Although pleas had been heard towards preparing for a major pandemic (See F. Bruni’s article on Laurie Garrett in NYT, 2 May 2020; Watch Bill Gates here:, the world has been taken as by surprise.

Today’s horror should not be forgotten. Besides passing on to future generations the tales of “how it really was”, we should also want to create the premises for avoiding or mitigating the occurrence of future horrors. Heritage is one of the means, but of what kind should it be?

Memorials will be erected, no doubt, especially in the most affected localities. Ideally any memorial should not only be a form of commemoration but also a societal tool to keep the attention alive.   Can we achieve this? And for how-long should memorials stay effective?  In order to keep the attention alive, memorials should stay effective on the order of 100 years, which is the periodicity of major world pandemics, with reminders every 25 years in-between.( see “Pandemics that changed history”, by Editors at )

The latest major pandemics was the Spanish flu of around 1918, one hundred years after the first cholera pandemics of 1817. Recent reminders were HIV/Aids, Ebola and SARS.  This timing is remindful of that of tsunamis in Japan. On average, Japan is hit by a tsunami every three years; tsunamis causing fatalities take place every 23 years; and the deadliest tsunamis occur every 60 years.

The Japanese have been memorializing their tsunamis – at least the deadliest ones – in the form of tsunami warning and/or commemoration stones. One example is the picture, hereafter, of  a tsunami stone in Aneyoshi, Japan, which warns residents not to build homes below it. (Taken from M. Fackler’s article, NYT April 20, 2011)   317 stone markers were erected since the 1896 and 1933 tsunamis, of which 125 (40%) disappeared with the devastation of the 2011 tsunami. Just as happened in the past, after important tsunamis, new stone markers were erected commemorating the latest (2011) tsunami. 500 such new markers pass on messages from this recent event to future generations. The initiative of creating and installing these modern stones was led by the Japanese guild of stone masons and not by the authorities, which highlights, on the one side, the potential role of civil society organizations in developing and maintaining markers and, on the other side, raises the question of the role, and the real interest, of the authorities in this type of warning and commemoration. (These data as well as others on Japan mentioned in the present blog are available from the 2014 study “Markers – Reflections on Intergenerational Warnings in the Form of Japanese Tsunami Stones”, accessible at ).


Tsunami stones


By and large the warnings the past tsunamis were neglected and did not help save lives when the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in 2011. Neglecting the warnings was rather the rule in post-1945 Japan, when the population started building their homes closer to shore, in areas marked by the tsunami stones as being at risk. Coastal towns grew rapidly against the backdrop of economic prosperity, and it appeared more advantageous for fishermen to live close to their boats. More villages were built closer to the shore after sea walls were erected in the 1960s. Another account suggests that people simply were too “busy” with their lives and jobs to pay attention to the stone markers.  A professor in disaster planning from Tōhoku University argued that it takes “three generations for people to forget”.

The neglected warnings of the Japanese tsunami stones illustrate that passive markers or monuments and memorials are not effective, in- and by-themselves, for maintaining the necessary awareness of past events and the necessary levels of protective behavior against recurring but still unpredictable events of variable devastating force. Memorialization should be not of the passive type. We should think heritage differently. In her book, Uses of Heritage (Routledge, 2006), Laurajanes Smith challenges traditional Western definitions of heritage that focus on material and monumental forms of ‘old’, or aesthetically pleasing, tangible heritage, which are all too often used to promote an unchallenging, consensual view of both the past and the present.

The challenge is today to create heritage memorials of various forms that do not expect future generations to take care of them as a matter of fact or even, as in the case of passive markers, not at all. They should be part of a practice or way of living that allows creating new meaning as society evolves.  Now is the time to think of constructing heritage that would naturally allow for adaptation and reinterpretation while supporting the original goal of not forgetting and, even, of fostering continued and additional knowledge.


Claudio Pescatore, member of the Chair


WM (Waste Management) 2020 in Phoenix

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

Claudio Pescatore participated in the Waste Management 2020 conference in Phoenix, Arizona. This annual event is the biggest gathering in the world in radioactive waste management.

Pescatore took part in a panel on Records, Knowledge and Memory for Radioactive Waste Repositories with a presentation about our work, entitled “Recent activities and progress in Sweden in the field of preserving records, knowledge and memory for future generations”.

He argued, among other things, that there is reason to believe that our work

will create momentum for exploring new avenues for cooperation in Sweden – and elsewhere – in order to strengthen and extend current practices in records, knowledge and memory preservation, regarding radioactive waste and beyond, in the context of sustainable development for the benefit of future generations

Archaeology Today

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

In this colouring book we illustrate how archaeologists are working today applying new approaches. The authors are Cornelius Holtorf (text) and Daniel Lindskog (drawings). Thank you Riksbanken Jubileumsfond for support!

Download the colouring book here.

Visit of Korean UNESCO Chair

Friday, November 22nd, 2019

On 21 November 2019 we welcomed to Kalmar four delegates from the National University of Cultural Heritage KNUCH in Korea. They were on an official visit to Sweden and spent one day in Kalmar to investigate joint areas for co-operation between our UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures and their UNESCO Chair on Capacity-Building for the Preservation and Restoration of the Asia-Pacific Cultural Heritage. Participants included

  • Prof. Soochul KIM (Department of Conservation Science/research focusing on wooden material conservation)
  • Prof. Youngjae KIM (Department of Conservation and Restoration/major in architecture and urbanism/holder of UNESCO Chair on Capacity-Building for the Preservation and Restoration of the Asia-Pacific Cultural Heritage)
  • Mr. Kihong LEE (KNUCH administrative staff in the Academic Affairs Department)
  • Mr. Seungtae NAM (KNUCH administrative staff, in charge international exchange and cooperation)

Prof. Soochul KIM, Mr. Seungtae NAM, Helena Rydén, Assistant to the UNESCO Chair at LNU, Cornelius Holtorf, Professor of Archaeology, UNESCO Chair holder at LNU, Prof. Youngjae KIM holder of UNESCO Chair at KNUCH and Mr. Kihong LEE

Prof. Anders Högberg, UNESCO Chair at LNU, participated by link from South Africa. Bodil Petersson, Associate Professor in Archaeology gave a presentation on our “Cultural Heritage in Present and Future Societies” Degree Programme.
Linda Liedström from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities gave an introducution to internationalisation and student exchange.

The delegation also visited Kalmar County Museum.

Our second Progress Report 09/2018-08/2019

Monday, November 18th, 2019

Our second progress report, period: 09/2018-08/2019 , made by the entire team over our second year of activities!

Progress Report 09/2018-08/2019

Over its first two years, the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures at Linnaeus University has been engaging in an extensive programme of national and international collaboration in research and training. We presented our work and agenda on many occasions in Sweden and around the world. We established contacts to various programmes and activities in UNESCO, to the Swedish Delegation to UNESCO, the Swedish UNESCO Commission, and began collaboration with other UNESCO Chairs in Sweden and internationally. Over the past year we co-organized two large events in Stockholm and in Amsterdam. In this report, we document the progress made by the entire team over our second year of activities.

Conference Report published!

Monday, November 18th, 2019

Conference Report of the ICOMOS University Forum “Thinking and Planning the Future in Heritage Management” in Amsterdam, 11-14 June 2019.

View the report 

Download the Report

The UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures at Linnaeus University, in collaboration with the Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (AHM), ICOMOS International, ICOMOS Netherlands, and the City of Amsterdam, organized an ICOMOS University Forum held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, 11-14 June 2019. The Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (AHM) of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) hosted the meeting, which aimed at promoting thinking and planning the future in heritage management.

Report Unesco Chair on Heritage Futures

Thinking and Planning the Future in Heritage Management, Amstedam 11-14 June 2019

The main questions that were discussed during the meeting were:
• How do we perceive of the future?
• Which future and future generations do heritage professionals work for?
• What heritage will be needed in the future (and how do we know)?
• How can we build capacity in future thinking among heritage professionals worldwide?

The conference participants included scholars and heritage managers, both young and established, from different parts of the world. All in all, the ICOMOS University Forum brought together about 50 global heritage specialists from academia and professional practice, representing not only many European countries but also Australia, Brazil, China, India, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Singapore, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey and the USA. During the meeting, participants enriched the discussion with their multicultural and multidisciplinary expertise.


World Heritage in Sweden and South Africa

Friday, September 13th, 2019

On 11 September, Anders Högberg and researchers from the University of Johannesburg visited the World Heritage site Agricultural Landcape of Southern Öland. They met up with Emma Rydnér, co-ordinator of the world heritage site, and Niklas Petersson who is one of the farmers keeping the world heritage alive. The researchers from Johannesburg are all in various ways working with the UNESCO World Heritage site Cradle of Humankind in South Africa. On Öland, the group had the opportunity to exchange knowledge and discuss aspects on how to build futures for world heritage site in different contexts.