“What Does It Mean to Decolonize Heritage?” in SAPIENS magazine

Thursday, October 7th, 2021

At the anthropology magazine SAPIENS, UNESCO Chair postdoctoral fellow Annalisa Bolin and David Nkusi, a heritage sites protection specialist at Rwanda Cultural Heritage Academy, write about their research in Nyanza District, a rural area of Rwanda. They examine the relationship between local communities and heritage resources in light of discussions about how to decolonize heritage management globally: “We need to be trusted with a sense of responsibility in the management of our heritage,” local leaders argued in the research, drawing on Rwandan philosophies of agaciro and kwigira (dignity and self-reliance). For more, visit SAPIENS here

Knowledge Cube

Thursday, October 7th, 2021
Knowledge Cube

Knowledge Cube exhibit: ‘Back to the Future’, UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures at Linnaeus University

What can we know about the future? What or what different futures do we preserve cultural heritage for? How do we communicate with future generations?

These and other questions about how we communicate who we are and what we do are addressed in the exhibition Back to the Future in the Knowledge Cube at the University Library in Växjö. The basis of the exhibition is the research conducted within the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures, which was established at Linnaeus University in 2017.

Topics include world heritage and Öland2050, long-term communication on nuclear waste disposal sites, the Voyager space message, the picture book WOW! The Future is Calling! and the colouring book Archaeology Today.

The team of the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures is presented too. 

The exhibition opened on 4 October at 14.30 in Växjö by Cornelia Witthöft, our Deputy Vice Chancellor for research. 

The exhibition runs until spring 2022. 

News item


Exhibit: Back to the Future on the opening 4 October 2021, Knowledge Cube at the University Library in Växjö. From left: Kerstin Brodén, Tina Dahlgren, Cornelius Holtorf, Sofie Tunbrant, Helena Rydén, Cornelia Witthöft, Emma Rydnér.

Various activities July – September 2021

Thursday, September 30th, 2021

Cornelius Holtorf reviewed in collaboration with Saranya Dharshini Karunanithi three global nominations for the 2022 World Monuments Watch (9 July 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf actively participated in two digital networking meetings during the international conference STREAMS – Transformative Environmental Humanities organised by KTH, Stockholm (3-6 August 2021). These meetings concerned “Environmental humanities and policy advice” (chaired by Sverker Sörlin) and “Imagining futures – science fiction and the environmental humanities” (chaired by Sabine Höhler), both were held on 3 August 2021.

Cornelius Holtorf presented on “Meta-Stories of Archaeology Revisited” for 15 graduate students attending this first event in a lecture series on Narrative and Storytelling in Archaeology, organised at the Amsterdam Centre for Ancient Studies and Archaeology (ACASA), University of Amsterdam, Netherlands (26 August 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf is a member of the Task Force of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) revising its Code of Practice and submitted specific suggestions to five sections of the new document (29 August 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf had an informal discussion with Julius Heinicke, holder of the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policy for the Arts in Development at the University of Hildesheim, Germany. The aim was to learn about each other’s work and consider future collaborations in teaching and research (31 August 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf and Anders Högberg attended the digital Second Plenary of the Working Party on Information, Data and Knowledge Management at the Nuclear Energy Agency, OECD, Paris (1-2 September 2021).

Leila Papoli-Yazdi gave an invited lecture entitled “To exercise our freedom: How archaeology can reinforce the academic freedom” in the session “Whither European Archaeology?” at the digital Inter-Congress of the World Archaeology Congress (1 September 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf and Anders Högberg arranged and chaired a futures literacy workshop for participants in the project Post-Pandemic Tourism Development, funded by Kamprad Family Foundation (6 September 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf attended parts of the digital Kiel 2021 Summit on Social Archaeology of Climate Change (6 September 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf presented a virtual talk entitled “Nuclear waste disposal sites: innovative world heritage for the Anthropocene?” for 60 participants in a session on Making nuclear cultural heritage: an institutional challenge for the nuclear industry? at the 7th RICOMET conference on social science and humanities in ionising radiation research, organised from Budapest, Hungary (8 September 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf took part in a planning meeting with other members of the new Working Group on Heritage and Climate Change of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Interpretation and Presentation of Cultural Heritage Sites, ICIP (9 September 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf participated actively in a round-table on “Applied Archaeology – New Directions for the Discipline in a Changing World” held at the virtual 26th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists organised from Kiel, Germany (9 September 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf presented on priorities for future archaeological research in a round-table on “Horizon Europe: Addressing the Priorities” held at the virtual 26th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists organised from Kiel, Germany (10 September 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf attended the virtual Annual Business Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists and was elected as a member of the Nomination Committee 2021-2024 (10 September 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf presented a paper entitled “Post-Pandemic Tourism Development for the Long-Term” for an audience of 20 participants in a session on COVID-19: Assessing the Impact and Planning for a Different Future for Archaeological Heritage Tourism held at the virtual 26th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists organised from Kiel, Germany (11 September 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf had an informal discussion with Hanna Schreiber, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Political Science and International Studies, University of Warsaw, Poland, about future collaboration concerning the global management of intangible cultural heritage and the concept of heritage futures (14 September 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf participated in the second Responsible Futures Workshop, led by Ted Fuller, UNESCO Chair on Responsible Foresight for Sustainable Development, UK, and Fabrice Roubelat, UNESCO Chair in Foresight and International Strategic Intelligence, France, also attended by Lydia Garrido, UNESCO Chair on Sociocultural Anticipation and Resilience, Uruguay (15 September 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf ran a seminar on “The Archaeology of Growth” for 13 staff and students taking part in the archaeological training excavation at Gamla Skogsby, Öland, Sweden (23 September 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf participated together with 60 international experts in a virtual seminar on the draft White Paper on “Impacts, vulnerability and understanding risks” in the run-up to the International Co-Sponsored Meeting on Culture, Heritage and Climate Change (23 September 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf participated in the final meeting of a working group of 20 European experts writing a White Paper on “Cultural Heritage and Climate Change: New challenges and perspectives for research” in a joint initiative of JPI Cultural Heritage and JPI Climate (27 September 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf participated together with nearly 60 international experts in a virtual seminar on the draft White Paper on “Climate change and diverse knowledge systems” in the run-up to the International Co-Sponsored Meeting on Culture, Heritage and Climate Change (30 September 2021).

UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures extended until 2025

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

UNESCO and Linnaeus University have decided to renew the agreement on the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures for another four years, until 2025. Cornelius Holtorf, Professor of Archaeology, is the chairholder.

The UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures was established at Linnaeus University in 2017. This is one of eight UNESCO Chairs in Sweden and the only one within the culture sector.

– We have four exciting years behind us and look forward to continuing the work. By now, we are well established, with a team of seven specializing in different areas, says Cornelius Holtorf.

Read more

Cornelius Holtorf; Peter Aronsson Linnaeus University

Cornelius Holtorf, holder of the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures and Peter Aronsson, Vice Chancellor at Linnaeus University


The future of heritage repatriation

Thursday, September 9th, 2021

What is heritage repatriation? What does it mean for countries which are trying to decolonize — especially those in Africa? In a short video, UNESCO Chair Postdoctoral Fellow Annalisa Bolin suggests that we can see the return of cultural heritage as a midpoint in a longer process of moving toward national self-determination after colonialism.


Future awareness at County museums in Sweden – new report (in Swedish)

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

Gustav Wollentz, Nordic Centre of Heritage Learning and Creativity (NCK)

Hur framtidsmedvetna är svenska länsmuseer? (in Swedish)

This report presents results from a study conducted by the Nordic Centre of Heritage Learning and Creativity (NCK) in the spring of 2021 on behalf of Linnaeus University’s UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures. The study is a continuation of an examination conducted in 2012 and 2013 in, among other things, the Swedish heritage sector, where a need for increased future awareness was identified. Based on the identified need, this study focuses on how county museums in Sweden can work towards a more developed future awareness. We examine what routines and tools already exist in the workplace to approach the future, or which routines and tools they express a need for. The results from the examination are presented in two formats: partly in the form of an article (publication is being prepared), partly in the form of this report which focuses on the need for new tools and routines that the interviewees express.

Challenges faced by women – W36, 19-20 August 2021

Monday, September 6th, 2021


The W36 Summit, a two-day event hosted virtually from India, was held on August 19-20. The summit aimed to discuss the challenges faced by women across the world, particularly the issues highlighted after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The summit established a platform to bring together all gender-related UNESCO Chairs and networks worldwide to unite voices and spark momentum for addressing challenges and co-building a bright future for all women across the globe.

On the first day, 36 gender-related UNESCO chairs were given the opportunity to introduce their activities and plans towards a more gender-equal world. On the second day, the summit hosted several speakers from different countries.

As an introduction, the hosts endorsed that the very recent studies show that by 2050, it is estimated that millions of girls and women face different forms of inequality, which will hinder their lives. Towards a better future for women and based on UN sustainable development goal 5, gender equality, the mentioned 36 UNESCO chairs aim to reinforce their network and stand against gender inequality and the widening gender gap.

The presentations of the first day corroborated that the pandemic has sabotaged the condition of women worldwide. The positive side of the case is that the mechanism of gender inequality has been more exposed during the last two years and so, many scholars are reconsidering the old solutions of the problem in a way that they function more effectively. According to the first-day speakers, all these 36 UNESCO chairs have accelerated their activities, held workshops, and published articles and books with the purpose of changing the drastic situation of women and other genders in different countries.

On the second day of the summit, the speakers presented the initiative’s actual ways of solving the inequality problem. The specific topics of ten presentations in two rooms of the summit were “Science and Technology, Education and Skill Development, Society, Culture and Legal Rights, Health and Nutrition, Safety and Security, Environment and Sustainability, Finance and Economics, Communication and Leadership”.

The presenters from India, as well as the other speakers, shared visions and showed that empowering women is one of the strongest ways to save the world not only from inequality but also from other global problems such as environmental and climate change. The projects on refugee women, villager women, and women of color in India, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, and Nigeria present progressive advances on how the cooperation of women in managing waste, water resources, and education puts the communities on the way of sustainable development.

In a general viewpoint, the summit was successful in opening new debates about the practical ways of overcoming the harsh situation of women. Also, it gave an opportunity to the participants to learn fresh elaborated solutions for old issues.


Leila Papoli-Yazdi


Dr Leila Papoli-Yazdi, Linnaeus University, is a member of the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures at Linnaeus University. She researches the dirty heritage of modern civilization; garbage, waste, and consumption — particularly to develop novel methods towards environmental and social sustainability in the future.


Lärarutbildning och skola i framtiden

Friday, August 27th, 2021

Cornelius Holtorf deltog i ett panelsamtal om lärarutbildning och skola som filmades och publicerades i samband med invigning av Universitetskajen Kalmar, 27 augusti 2021.

Panelen samtalar om lärarutbildningen och skolans dåtid, nutid och framtid. Vad kommer vara den viktigaste frågan för lärarutbildningen i framtiden och varför?

New article by Annalisa Bolin on Rwandan heritage and international relationships

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021

The UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures’ Postdoctoral Fellow Annalisa Bolin has recently published “The Strategic Internationalism of Rwandan Heritage“, a fully open-access article in Journal of Eastern African Studies. The article covers heritage diplomacy, shared heritage and repatriation, and how heritage mediates the relationship between Rwanda and Germany:

“Heritage, a practice shot through with political forces, is mobilized by states within their international relationships through methods such as heritage diplomacy. Focusing on the connections between Rwanda and Germany, this article traces how heritage serves as a technique of foreign relations for the Rwandan state. The uses of heritage are shaped by the state’s higher-level political orientations, especially the project of agaciro, which pursues an agenda of increased sovereignty for Rwanda in relation to the rest of the world. This conditions how ‘shared heritage’ and heritage repatriation contribute to establishing strategic alliances and decolonizing, making heritage part of a suite of tools used to advantageously reposition the country in the international arena. The article deepens our understanding of the Rwandan state’s governing techniques and examines heritage’s role as a mediator of international relationships, even for less-powerful nations whose agency is sometimes neglected in discussions of heritage diplomacy.”

Before it is too late?

Wednesday, August 4th, 2021

Cornelius Holtorf presented a paper entitled “Before it is too late? Narrating Nuclear Legacies Beyond Risk” in a session on “Nuclear Narratives” at the STREAMS – Transformative Environmental Humanities conference, organized by KTH, Stockholm (4 August 2021)

Nuclear narratives are most commonly stories of risk, whether that is the risk of radioactive contamination of the environment or, increasingly, the risk of loss of nuclear cultural heritage.

In his paper, Holtorf asked what it could mean to tell nuclear narratives and stories about nuclear cultural heritage that do not feature notions of risk. Such alternative nuclear narratives may be exemplified by pioneering nuclear artist James Acord’s explorations of practices of transmutation and alchemy and by the current political rehabilitation of nuclear energy for mitigating climate change, e.g. in the context of “Greens for nuclear energy“.