Heritage futures question the status quo

16:57 by Cornelius Holtorf

When I present key ideas associated with our work on heritage futures, promoting futures-thinking among heritage professionals, some colleagues say that this is nothing new. Here are a few examples illustrating what I mean when I say that we must go beyond the status quo in heritage thinking. I cite below several statements from a recent document on European heritage policy, and how we differ from the heritage futures perspective.

Status quo: Whether we like it or not, we are all intrinsically connected to our past.

Heritage futures: More than anything else, we are all necessarily tied up with on-going processes in our present and their impacts on the future.

Status quo: Europe’s cultural heritage is the direct result of our ancestors’ deeds, efforts and decisions.

Heritage futures: Europe’s current ‘cultural heritage’ has been constructed over the past couple of centuries by intellectuals, politicians, business people, and various kinds of cultural activists and influencers. 

Status quo: It is time to acknowledge that this shared heritage, this sense of togetherness, is the real foundation on which Europe is built.

Heritage futures: It is time to acknowledge that Europe has been built on a notion of heritage that is increasingly associated with divisions in society.

Status quo: Europe’s cultural heritage … shows us how our lives are connected to a long line of generations coming before and after us.

Heritage futures: Cultural heritage must be re-imagined now to create a viable foundation for future societies, both in Europe and globally.

Status quo: Our cultural heritage holds up a mirror to who we were, who we are and who we aspire to be, and helps us to interpret our past successes and failures.

Heritage futures: Futures literacy in the heritage sector can facilitate necessary changes in society and in how we see ourselves, in order to meet global challenges of the future.

 

 

Cornelius Holtorf
In 2017, Linnaeus University in Kalmar, Sweden, was awarded a UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures. This is one of eight Chairs in Sweden, and the only one within the cultural sector. Cornelius Holtorf, holder of the UNESCO Chair, alongside his team, will continue to generate ideas through this forum.

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