Chair on Heritage Futures

Various activities October – December 2019


Cornelius Holtorf presented a talk on “Applied heritage and the need to increase ‘futures literacy’ in the heritage sector” for ca 15 international heritage specialists attending a JPI-CH expert meeting on Heritage Management in Dynamic Environments held at the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands in Amersfoort, Netherlands (9 October 2019).

Cornelius Holtorf and Anders Högberg took active part in a meeting at middle management level at SKB in Stockholm discussing current and future collaborations concerning the preservation of records, knowledge and memory of nuclear waste (25 October 2019).

Cornelius Holtorf discussed future collaboration with Maja Heuer who is developing a new World Heritage Museum for Blekinge Museum, Karlskrona (4 November 2019).

Cornelius Holtorf attended the meeting of the World Heritage Council for the World Heritage site Agricultural Landscape of Southern Öland, in Mörbylånga (8 November 2019).

Cornelius Holtorf participated in a 6-day course on “Perspectives on collaboration – on the roles of academia in society” in Lund, Växjö and Linköping (November – December 2019).

Cornelius Holtorf taught 13 students in the Graduate Studies Programme in Antiquity Studies at the University of Basel, Switzerland. He had responsibility for half of the Research Seminar Course on “‘Cultural Heritage’ in Antiquity Studies”. The intensive 2-day workshop entitled “Das Kulturerbe und wie es uns in der Zukunft von Vorteil sein kann” (Cultural heritage and how it can be of use to us in the future) contained elements of text-based seminar discussion, lecture with discussion, structured futures workshop and open group discussion (18/19 November 2019).

Annalisa Bolin gave a talk entitled “Material Mediation: Heritage Politics Across Rwanda’s Borders” for the Critical Heritage Studies Network at Stockholm University (21 November 2019).

Cornelius Holtorf chaired a panel discussion with 5 experts on the significance of research in museum archaeology during an audience of ca 35 attending the Annual Meeting of the Swedish Association of Museum Archaeology (M-Ark) in Kalmar (28 November 2019).

Cornelius Holtorf chaired the second project workshop of the “Memory Across Generations” project dedicated to culture heritage, held at the National Archives of Sweden, Stockholm (29 November 2019). Claudio Pescatore contributed actively and acted as Secretary.

Cornelius Holtorf gave a talk (presented by recorded video) entitled “UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures: a short presentation” at the 2019 KNUCH UNESCO Chair International Conference, Hapjeong-ri, Chungnam, Korea (4 December 2019).

Cornelius Holtorf gave a talk on “Cultural Heritage and Cultural Resilience” for a public audience at Linnaeus University, Sjöfartshögskolan, Kalmar (4 December 2019).

Cornelius Holtorf gave a talk on “Time Travel for real. Experiences of the Past” for the eXperience Knowledge Platform at Linnaeus School of Business and Economics, Kalmar (6 December 2019).

Cornelius Holtorf presented a talk on “The Value of Cultural Heritage in the Future” for cirka 50 professionals in the regional cultural heritage sector discussing the question What is the Value of Cultural Heritage?, Kalmar (13 December 2019).

A camera capturing future change


The American artist and philosopher Jonathon Keats has been creating an ingenious little camera that documents the flow and passage of time over a century or a millennium. It is a simple device that involves black paper gradually bleaching in response to the light let in through a pinhole and thus producing something like a single-frame movie.

Keats explains:

“Anything that stays in place will look sharp. Anything moving quickly, like cars and people, won’t show up at all. And anything that changes slowly, like a growing tree, will be ghostly. You’ll also be able to see bigger changes, like the ghost of a house that’s been knocked down haunting the apartment building that takes its place.”

There are many reasons why this camera may not work but the camera is cheap to build and an exhibition of each camera’s picture is already set to be opened in 3015 at the Art Museums of Arizona State University. Keats knows that “[m]ost likely it will take multiple attempts, spanning tens of thousands of years, to get the exposure right.” But this prospect does not daunt him:

“The ongoing iterative process of trying to perfect this technology can provide countless generations with a sense of connection and collective purpose.”

Cultural heritage, nuclear waste and the future


“Whether we are concerned with nuclear waste or cultural heritage, we are in the same business of Heritage Futures… Heritage Futures are concerned with the roles of heritage in managing the relations between present and future societies, e.g. through anticipation and planning.”

From a new paper now available in open access: Holtorf, C. (2019) “Cultural heritage, nuclear waste and the future: what’s in it for us?” In: J. Dekker (ed.) Bewaren of Weggooien? Middleburg: Zeeuwse Ankers and COVRA.

– Note that most of the book is in Dutch but my contribution is in English.