Chair on Heritage Futures

Various activities October – December 2020


Cornelius Holtorf attended the ICOMOS General Assembly Marker Event hosted by Australia ICOMOS in Sydney, on the occasion oft the planned physical General Assembly what was postponed to 2023. (7 October 2020)

Cornelius Holtorf commented for the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO on the First draft of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science. (18 October 2020)

Cornelius Holtorf attended the online conference on “Humanities and Social Sciences for Sustainability – Cultural and regional dimensions of global sustainability” (21-22 October 2020).

Cornelius Holtorf took part in a meeting with regional politicians, civil servants and experts in the Counties of Kronoberg and Uppsala concerning progress in the nomination process of a serial UNESCO World Heritage site on “The rise of systematic biology”, currently the only site on the Swedish tentative list (22 October 2020).

Cornelius Holtorf participated in the World Heritage Council meeting for the World Heritage site “Agricultural Landscape  of Southern Öland” in Kastlösa, Öland (23 October 2020).

Cornelius Holtorf contributed with a Q&A session on heritage futures, sustainable development, and cultural resilience in the context of UNESCO to a course taught by Annalisa Bolin on “Rights and Ethics in Heritage” at Stanford University, USA (27 October 2020)

Cornelius Holtorf and Anders Högberg attended a meeting of the Expert Group on Awareness Preservation associated with the Working Party on Information, Data and Knowledge Management (WP-IDKM) at the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) based in Paris to discuss its Programme of Work 2020-2022 (4 November 2020) 

Cornelius Holtorf attended the First General Assembly of the global Climate Heritage Network, of which the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures is a member. The meeting featured among others a presentation on culture and climate action by Karima Bennoune, Professor of Law at UC Davis and UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights (16 November 2020).

Cornelius Holtorf presented a lecture (on zoom) entitled “Der Coburger Weg – Eine Archäologie” for 12 students attending a seminar class on Was bleibt vom Coburger Weg? at Hochschule Coburg, Coburg, Germany (20 November 2020).

Cornelius Holtorf attended a Webinar of the ICOMOS Sustainable Development Goals Working Group on The Role of Cultural Heritage in Building Environmental Resilience (20 November 2020).

Cornelius Holtorf presented a keynote talk on “What academic freedom may mean in the humanities” for ca 40 participants of the international zoom conference Academic Freedom and Social Change organized by Linnaeus University (24 November 2020).

Cornelius Holtorf commented on the draft Action Plan for implementing the National World Heritage Strategy sent out for consultation by the Swedish National Heritage Board (1 December 2020).

Cornelius Holtorf co-chaired and Anders Högberg and Annalisa Bolin participated in a series of project meetings bringing together 20 representatives of the regional tourist industry and researchers of Linnaeus University to discuss “Post-Pandemic Tourism Development”. The project is funded by the Kamprad Family Foundation (3 December 2020, 4 February 2021, 4 March 2021, MORE DATES TO BE ADDED HERE LATER). 

Cornelius Holtorf had meeting discussing future collaboration with Louise Hoffman Borgö and Elene Negussie working at the Swedish National Heritage Board with implementing the new World Heritage Strategy for Sweden (11 December 2020 and 3 February 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf participated in the Annual General Meeting of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee for Interpretation  and Presentation (ICIP) (14 December 2020).

Cornelius Holtorf presented a talk on “How to institutionalize a ‘people-centered-approach’ to heritage” for an international project based at Kyushu University, Japan, working on Developing Methodologies for Integrated Governance to Protect Cultural Heritage (17 December 2020).

Cornelius Holtorf commented on an ICOMOS draft document on “Cultural Heritage for Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: A Policy Guidance for All Cultural Heritage and Development Actors” (27 December 2020).

Wow! The Future is calling!


After years of thinking, drawing, writing, editing and re-editing, illustrator Pernilla Frid and archaeologist Cornelius Holtorf published a unique children’s book (which is really for adults).

Wow! The Future is calling! is a picture book coming out of Cornelius Holtorf’s longstanding research at the interface of heritage and the future. When illustrator Pernilla Frid was invited to apply her skills, she was immediately attracted to work in this context and with innovative concepts. The point is to convey the variety and richness in which we can engage with the future. The book gives many examples, both in the way the main characters act, representing three different ways of relating to the future, and in the many details, which surround them.

Copyright © 2021. Text & illustrations: Pernilla Frid & Cornelius Holtorf. All rights reserved. Contact: pernillafrid926@gmail.com, cornelius.holtorf@lnu.se

Popular academic papers


Cornelius Holtorf’s article “Embracing change: how cultural resilience is increased through cultural heritage” has been very popular. Since its publication two years ago it has attracted more than 9,000 viewers on the publisher’s online forum. According to the same site, it is now the third most-read paper in the journal World Archaeology (since start of the statistics in 2011).

The paper No future in archaeological heritage management?, co-authored by Anders Högberg, Cornelius Holtorf, Sarah May and Gustav Wollentz in World Archaeology in 2017, has attracted more than 6,000 viewers and holds place 9 in the same list.

Anders Högberg fortsätter i Statens historiska museers insynsråd


Insynsrådets uppgift är att utöva insyn i verksamheten och ge myndighetschefen råd.

– Jag har arbetat i insynsrådet sedan 2015. Det är ett både utmanande och tillfredställande arbete. Statens historiska museer har vuxit kraftigt sedan 2015. Nya museer och verksamheter har införlivats i myndigheten vilket medfört stora omorganisationer. Det är förändringar som krävt engagemang från insynsrådet. Det är verkligen givande att omsätta forskning och samverkanskompetens som kommer ur mitt universitetsarbete till aktiva råd och diskussioner i myndighetens arbete, säger Anders Högberg som nu får fortsatt förtroende till 2023.

Prof Anders Högberg UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures

Prof Anders Högberg UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures

Futures Literacy Summit


During the past week, Cornelius Holtorf attended the digital Futures Literacy Summit, organised by UNESCO (8-12 December 2020). Among the highlights for him were six events in particular:

  1. An encounter with The Museum of Future History, directed by experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats. Among the projects of the museum is a biodegradable time capsule intended to express perceptions of the future and to decompose before that future arrives (see the template provided here).
  2. An extended conversation he had with Jerome Glenn, Co-founder and CEO of The Millennium Project, and Elizabeth Florescu and Mara Di Berardo, two other representatives of the same project, about heritage futures, nuclear waste and other global challenges, world heritage and the role of culture in the world.
  3. A recorded lecture and open discussion with futurist Peter Bishop on how to prepare students for the future.
  4. An exploration of the informative OECD Strategic Foresight Unit, featuring among others a policy response document on COVID-19 and the cultural and creative sectors
  5. A statement by Gabriela Ramos, Assistent Director General for Social & Human Sciences at UNESCO, in which she expressed that “[b]eing futures literate alters how we see ourselves and our role in the world. We gain confidence in our ability to be agile and embrace transformation. …  The way we ‘build’ the world around us changes. Now is the time to embrace a different, more open and diverse, more democratic approach to ‘using-the-future’. It is time for all of us to become more futures literate.”
  6. A statement by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in which he emphasised that “Futures Literacy enhances our ability to sense, and make sense of, our ever-changing world. It helps us to prepare for an uncertain future …” He also said that he was looking forward “to the contributions that Futures Literacy will make as we strive to build a peaceful, prosperous world for all on a healthy planet.”

The Bamiyan Buddhas – what next?


In 2001, the Taliban blew the Bamiyan Buddha statues to pieces. Since then, UNESCO and others have been deliberating whether they ought to be reconstructed.

Now the current state of the discussion has been published by Springer in a volume entitled The Future of the Bamiyan Buddha Statues, summarising the outcomes of a UNESCO conference held in Tokyo in 2017. The book contains a chapter by Cornelius Holtorf entitled “Destruction and Reconstruction of Cultural Heritage as Future-Making“. He argues that before any specific reconstructions of the Buddha statues are commissioned, we should consider several alternative futures for the past:

  • will there be new audiences for heritage among the growing populations of Asia?
  • Will digital and interactive ways of presentation reduce the significance of genuine artefacts?
  • Will the preference for dark and painful heritage grow and perhaps increasingly demand stories about the Taliban rather than about Buddhism?
  • Or will heritage tourism come to an end altogether? 

Future making aspects of heritage


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