Chair on Heritage Futures

Taking care of nuclear waste


Now published and available in open access:

Cornelius Holtorf (2003) Taking care of nuclear waste. In: Toxic Heritage. Legacies, Futures, and Environmental Injustice. Edited By Elizabeth Kryder-Reid and Sarah May (Routledge). 

This visual essay contains impressions and reflections about long-term communication concerning long-term storage of radioactive waste and was inspired by a visit to the nuclear facilities at Olkiluoto, Finland. The site is known from Michael Madsen’s 2010 documentary Into Eternity. The images refer in various ways to selected aspects of climate change, public acceptance, uncertainty, world heritage, and the art of forgetting.

World Heritage for the Anthropocene


Now published:

Holtorf, Cornelius (2023) Towards a World Heritage for the Anthropocene. In: N.Shepherd (ed.) Rethinking Heritage in Precarious Times: Coloniality, Climate Change, and Covid-19. Routledge.

The 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention was created to contribute to peace and security in the world. However, contrary to the original intentions, world heritage sites are in practice not considered as the world’s shared heritage but frequently championed by their respective nation-states which focus on distinguishing ‘our’ from ‘their’ heritage and thus reinforce existing divisions. In this chapter, I discuss what could be done to adopt a more people-centred approach to world heritage. One approach is to introduce participative decision-making in the selection process. Another is to adopt new criteria for selecting global world heritage that serve better the interests of humanity and indeed the original intentions of UNESCO with the Convention. I present some concrete suggestions for such criteria and three examples of world heritage that might then be selected.

Increasing future awareness in the cultural heritage sector…


A new report on Increasing future awareness in the cultural heritage sector using the SoPHIA model just published!

The report presents results from a project that aimed at increasing future awareness in the cultural heritage sector, using the SoPHIA model. The project was run by the Centre for Applied Heritage at Linnaeus University, with funding from the university. Work on the report was carried out in 2021 and 2022 by NCK (The Nordic Centre of Heritage Learning and Creativity AB) under the direction of Gustav Wollentz, in co-operation with Kalmar County Museum, Jamtli Museum, and Daniel Laven from the Department of Economics, Geography, Law and Tourism at Mid Sweden University.

Results from the project show that the model succeeded in exploring possible future effects of a heritage intervention, defined as any action that results in a physical change to an element of a historic place, and related these effects to prioritized issues for societal development, such as participation, inclusion, and well-being. It managed to expand the range of potential action in the present. Furthermore, it also provided a useful tool for identifying significant areas where there is the potential to think more innovatively and creatively regarding future change and effects. The model helped in identifying the necessary steps and actions needed for realizing the interventionin accordance with a desirable scenario. The model failed in anticipating long-term futures or futures radically different from the present. It mostly provided insights into how the intervention could have an impact upon future change, but not on how future change would have an impact upon the intervention. Ways of adapting the model for increased future awareness are suggested. These include ways to make the model more suitable for anticipating long-term futures as well as futures of radical change. 

Workshop on futures thinking


In a join effort of developing our picture book WOW! further, Pernilla Frid and Cornelius Holtorf held today an experimental workshop on futures thinking with the staff of the Dept of External Relations at Linnaeus University.

The 20 participants got engaged in various discussions, both in plenary and in groups, on how they relate to the future and what action towards (any aspect of) the future they would propose to take…

Kan vara en bild av 7 personer, personer som står och inomhus

Histories of the Future


For a number of years I had been wondering why my historian colleagues did not seem to care very much about ever applying their many skills to making sense of the future as much as of the past. Both past and future are after all directly linked in the present.

Now a very nice looking book on Historical Understanding – Past, Present, and Future has been published that breaks new ground into exactly that direction. And I am very glad I could contribute with an essay on “Periodization of the future” …

Playful theorising


Cornelius Holtorf and Emily Hanscam attended the Nordic TAG conference in Oslo where they ran a practical workshop entitled “ARCHAEOLOGY TODAY (IN COLOUR)”. The abstract explained that…

Participants in the workshop will enjoy their coffee while busying themselves in small groups around several tables using crayons to draw in a colouring book (Archaeology Today, C. Holtorf and D. Lindskog 2021). The aim of the workshop is to inspire discussion on some archaeological key issues and on the forms in which such thinking may be expressed and practiced in various archaeological formats. We will find out what happens when adults adopt what is (supposedly) a children’s’ activity: will it bring out the child in each of us or will participants long for more adult genres? What does that entail in the context of academic discourse, fieldwork reports, and for the future of theoretical archaeology? We will ask us together what’s the use of theory when you can go and paint in a book (and vice versa). [shortened and slightly edited]

In the event, we found that the practice of colouring was a thinking device and conversation opener. All participants felt that archaeologists need to make archaeological theorising more playful and more commonly break rules and conventions in the name of creativity…

White Paper published


Collaboration between the two Joint Programming Initiatives “Cultural Heritage and Global Change” (JPI CH), and “Connecting Climate Knowledge for Europe” (JPI Climate) 2019-2022 has now led to a White Paper on Cultural Heritage and Climate Change: New Challenges and Perspectives for Research. Cornelius Holtorf was among the 26 authors.

The goal of the White Paper is to support the two JPIs to generate policy-relevant research outcomes. Thanks to our input, the 31 page-document emphasizes explicitly the significance of ‘heritage futures’ for informing future research agendas:

Among the White Paper’s recommendations for research are…

  • to generate more knowledge on how, in different contexts, cultural meanings and values can enhance climate adaptation and mitigation,
  • to understand better the future risks and opportunities of different perceptions and uses of cultural heritage, not the least for planning climate adaptation,
  • to make sure that more training is available for stakeholders and decision-makers regarding feasible solutions for climate adaptation, including effective methods to evaluate benefits and harm of conservation actions,
  • to investigate threats and opportunities of reducing, renewing, reconstructing, and regenerating cultural heritage for enhancing social cohesion.


Heritage for the future


Under the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Foundation for Heritage Science organised the symposium ‘Heritage for the Future, Science for Heritage: A European Adventure for Research and Innovation’. The hybrid event was accessible physically in Paris as well as digitally (15-16 March 2022).

Claudio Pescatore participated physically and will soon report about his impressions on this blog.

Cornelius Holtorf and Anders Högberg participated digitally. They also had a short paper accepted entitled “Why cultural heritage needs foresight“. In that paper, they argue that the cultural heritage sector, including Heritage Science, needs to address an inherent lack of capability in futures thinking by enhancing foresight and ‘futures literacy’. The sector ought to take seriously the consequences of the insight that the uses and values of cultural heritage in future societies will be different from those in the present and in the past. Foresight and futures literacy will allow the cultural heritage sector to respond to climate change and other global developments, risks and challenges anticipated by futurists

Kärnavfallsfrågan i media


Idag tar den Svenska regeringen beslutet om slutförvar för kärnavfall.

I det sammanhanget blev Cornelius Holtorf flera gånger de senaste dagarna intervjuat om långtidsminne av slutförvaret och kärnavfall. Anders Högberg intervjuades i Svenska Dagbladet.

Radio P4 Kalmar (27 jan 22): Så ska man kommunicera med svenskarna 100 000 år i framtiden

Radio P1 Studio Ett (26 jan 22): Hur ska slutförvaringen kommuniceras till eftervärlden?

TT 24 & 29 jan 22: Minibladet, Norrländska Socialdemokraten, Södermanlands Nyheter, Mariestads-Tidningen (2 feb 2022), Ny Teknik, Nya Wermlands-Tidningen, Nerikes Allehanda, Katrineholms Kuriren, Motala & Vadstena Tidning, Enköpings-Posten (31 jan 22), Aftonbladet, Dagens Näringsliv, E55, Helsingborgs Dagblad Premium, MSN, Sydsvenskan Premium, Göteborgs-Posten, Norran, Piteå-Tidningen, Vestmanlands Läs Tidning, Barometern (29 jan 22), Gefle Dagblad (27 jan 22), Västerbottens kuriren, Folkbladet Västerbotten (26 jan 22), Sydsvenska dagbladet (25 & 29 jan 22), Skånska dagbladet (24 jan 22), Nyheter 24 (24 & 29 jan 22). Hur pratar vi kärnavfall med framtiden?

Svenska Dagbladet (29 jan 22): Frågan om slutförvaret: Ska framtiden varnas?

Upsala Nya Tidning (3 feb 22)

Sveriges radio (5 Feb 2022), Juniornyheterna Special: Hur pratar man med framtiden?