Chair on Heritage Futures

Various activities January – March 2020


Cornelius Holtorf met in Växjö with Professor Ou Rong, Dean of the School of International Studies at Hangzhou Normal University, China, to discuss a variety of possibilities for future research collaboration (10 January 2020).

Annalisa Bolin presented a research seminar on “The Heritage Politics of Post-Genocide Rwanda”, with ca 25 researchers of the Department of Cultural Sciences at Linnaeus University attending (21 Jan 2020).

Claudio Pescatore presented a research seminar on “At the confluence of archaeology, history and sustainable development: millennial time capsules”, with 16 researchers of the Department of Cultural Sciences at Linnaeus University attending (21 Jan 2020).

Sarah May presented a research seminar on “Toxic Heritage and Community Futures: Contamination and regeneration in South Wales”, with 18 researchers of the Department of Cultural Sciences at Linnaeus University attending (22 Jan 2020).

Cornelius Holtorf lectured on “UNESCO and World Heritage: communication with the future” to ca 10 undergraduate students in Heritage Studies at Linnaeus University (31 January 2020).

Cornelius Holtorf presented a keynote lecture entitled “Sustainable Futures for Heritage?” and participated in a subsequent topical panel debate, for the more than 60 participants at the Annual Spring Conference of the Nordic Centre of Heritage Learning and Creativity (NCK), this time dedicated to the topic Shaping Sustainable Futures through Heritage in Östersund, Sweden (12 February 2020).

Cornelius Holtorf met in Paris with staff of the Swedish Permanent Delegation to UNESCO and the OECD to discuss current projects and identify matters of shared interest (4 March 2020).

Cornelius Holtorf took part in an expert meeting on “Developing Methodologies for Integrated Governance to Protect Cultural Heritage” held at ICOMOS Headquarters, Paris (5-6 March 2020).

Cornelius Holtorf contributed to the Consultation of the Governing Bodies of the World Heritage Convention on the UNESCO Medium Term Strategy 2022-2029 by submitting suggestions of priorities to the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO (10 March 2020).

What does the future hold for heritage?


Cornelius Holtorf gave a Prezi presentation on “Heritage Futures: What does the future hold for heritage?” for the Global Webinar Series of the ICOMOS Emerging Professionals Working Group (29 March 2020).

The Zoom session reached very quickly the maximum number of 100 participants, with another 134 queuing to come in. Participants joined from all regions of the world, many confined to their homes due to measures to slow down the spread of covid-19.

Among the topics addressed in the lecture and the subsequent discussion were:

  • What does it mean to address Heritage Futures?
  • Is the future relevant to heritage?
  • Is the future knowable at all?
  • What are the needs of future generations?
  • Are we already addressing the future?
  • What is the potential of heritage in a post-corona world?

The presentation concluded by stating that heritage can have a bright future to the extent that it competently contributes to meeting the needs of future societies.

A recording of the entire session is available here. A look back at the event is available on the ICOMOS site.

Archaeology Today


Here is something for all of you to enjoy in a dark period:

Archaeology Today. By Cornelius Holtorf (text) and Daniel Lindskog (drawings).

Access without need to log in here.

This colouring book illustrates how archaeologists are working today applying new approaches. It was published by the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures at Linnaeus University. Thanks to Riksbanken Jubileumsfond for support!

Heritage and COVID-19


The people I meet no longer shake hands to greet but they invent or adopt all sorts of new forms of greetings: with elbows, feet or by folding hands in front of their bodies. My colleague Eva Cronquist made me aware that, curiously, these for us unusual gestures make the greeting more intense – and warmer.

We learn from that that in times of crisis it is not difficult for anybody to adapt even some of the most established habits and traditions (our cultural heritage!). And especially: to make such a shift is a gift not a sacrifice.

WM (Waste Management) 2020 in Phoenix


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

Welcome to UNESCO Day in Växjö!


UPDATE 17 March: due to the Covid-19 pandemic we will hold this event during the autumn instead.

Welcome to a UNESCO Day on 1 April 2020 at Linnaeus University in Växjö. On this unique day, the Swedish UNESCO Chairs together with representatives of the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO will report about their current activities and priorities for the future.

The program includes a Welcome by Peter Aronsson after which Lena Sommestad, Chairperson of the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO, and the Swedish UNESCO Chairs will present their current work.

In the afternoon, two open lectures will take place where the Chairs are given the opportunity to meet colleagues and students in their respective fields. See here for the full programm.

The programme is open to staff and students at Linnaeus University. Participation is free of charge, but signing up is compulsory to the programme in the morning. Sign up by March 25!

Preserved for the future


Cornelius Holtorf contributed with Martin Kunze to the art project “Ineligible” which is currently displayed as part of the exhibition “Creative (Un)makings: Dispruptions in Art/Archaeology” that is curated by Doug Bailey and Sara Navarro and held at the International Museum of Contemporary Sculpture in Santo Tirso, Portugal (6 March – 14 June 2020). Ineligible removed archaeological artefacts from the context of an excavation in San Francisco, disarticulates and repurposes them as raw materials in order to address contemporary political and social issues.

Holtorf and Kunze´s work is entitled “Preserved for the future”, and it addresses the global politics of loss and preservation. A shoe from San Francisco was burned reducing it to small fragments of minerals. The ceramic tile contains the photograph of a shadow of the shoe together with some of its tangible remains. A duplicate was deposited in the Memory of Mankind storage facility at Hallstatt in Austria where it may survive for hundreds of thousands of years.

In an ultimate act of preservation, the shoe of one human who lived a century ago has thus become part of the memory of humankind. To allow this prospect of preservation for the future, the shoe was translated into ashes and a shadow of itself. Ironically, this tile may be the only thing to survive from the excavation in San Francisco in the distant future.

So: has the shoe been lost through the process or preserved?

What will future generations make of this and other legacies of our time?


Archaeology Today


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.

Heritage Futures – the book


To be published in July 2020:

Heritage Futures Comparative Approaches to Natural and Cultural Heritage Practices. By Rodney Harrison, Caitlin DeSilvey, Cornelius Holtorf, Sharon Macdonald, Nadia Bartolini, Esther Breithoff, Harald Fredheim, Antony Lyons, Sarah May, Jennie Morgan, and Sefryn Penrose. UCL Press 2020.

Preservation of natural and cultural heritage is often said to be something that is done for the future, or on behalf of future generations, but the precise relationship of such practices to the future is rarely reflected upon. Heritage Futures draws on research undertaken over four years by an interdisciplinary, international team of 16 researchers and more than 25 partner organisations to explore the role of heritage and heritage-like practices in building future worlds.