Challenges faced by women – W36, 19-20 August 2021

6 September, 2021


The W36 Summit, a two-day event hosted virtually from India, was held on August 19-20. The summit aimed to discuss the challenges faced by women across the world, particularly the issues highlighted after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The summit established a platform to bring together all gender-related UNESCO Chairs and networks worldwide to unite voices and spark momentum for addressing challenges and co-building a bright future for all women across the globe.

On the first day, 36 gender-related UNESCO chairs were given the opportunity to introduce their activities and plans towards a more gender-equal world. On the second day, the summit hosted several speakers from different countries.

As an introduction, the hosts endorsed that the very recent studies show that by 2050, it is estimated that millions of girls and women face different forms of inequality, which will hinder their lives. Towards a better future for women and based on UN sustainable development goal 5, gender equality, the mentioned 36 UNESCO chairs aim to reinforce their network and stand against gender inequality and the widening gender gap.

The presentations of the first day corroborated that the pandemic has sabotaged the condition of women worldwide. The positive side of the case is that the mechanism of gender inequality has been more exposed during the last two years and so, many scholars are reconsidering the old solutions of the problem in a way that they function more effectively. According to the first-day speakers, all these 36 UNESCO chairs have accelerated their activities, held workshops, and published articles and books with the purpose of changing the drastic situation of women and other genders in different countries.

On the second day of the summit, the speakers presented the initiative’s actual ways of solving the inequality problem. The specific topics of ten presentations in two rooms of the summit were “Science and Technology, Education and Skill Development, Society, Culture and Legal Rights, Health and Nutrition, Safety and Security, Environment and Sustainability, Finance and Economics, Communication and Leadership”.

The presenters from India, as well as the other speakers, shared visions and showed that empowering women is one of the strongest ways to save the world not only from inequality but also from other global problems such as environmental and climate change. The projects on refugee women, villager women, and women of color in India, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, and Nigeria present progressive advances on how the cooperation of women in managing waste, water resources, and education puts the communities on the way of sustainable development.

In a general viewpoint, the summit was successful in opening new debates about the practical ways of overcoming the harsh situation of women. Also, it gave an opportunity to the participants to learn fresh elaborated solutions for old issues.


Leila Papoli-Yazdi


Dr Leila Papoli-Yazdi, Linnaeus University, is a member of the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures at Linnaeus University. She researches the dirty heritage of modern civilization; garbage, waste, and consumption — particularly to develop novel methods towards environmental and social sustainability in the future.


Review by Alex Da Silva Martire

3 September, 2021

HOLTORF, Cornelius, HÖGBERG, Anders (eds.). Cultural Heritage and the Future. London; New York: Routledge /Taylor & Francis Group, 2021, 300 p.

Reviewed by Alex da Silva Martire, historian and archaeologist. Post-doc at Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Coordinator at Interactive Archaeology and Electronic Simulations ( Contact:

Cultural Heritage and the Future, edited by archaeologists Cornelius Holtorf and Anders Högberg, contains contribution of 19 authors specialized in various areas of the Humanities related to the study of heritage. It is aimed, as stated on the first page, at professionals, academics and students in the fields of museology and heritage studies, archeology, anthropology, architecture, conservation studies, sociology, history and geography. But the content of the book goes beyond these subjects and can also be read as a contribution to memory studies and indeed to Anthropocene studies.

Cultural Heritage and the Future is divided into four sections, all of which are subdivided into quick-read chapters, ranging from ten to 20 pages, on themes related to the study of heritage and, mainly, how we can get rid of the common sense that “we must preserve heritage for future generations” without thinking about what that future actually means. In this way, all the chapters, although each one dealing with its own subject, end up converging on this central theme about the concern of why and how we will transmit to the future what we currently find valuable enough to be preserved.

The four sections of the book bring many provocations, theoretical concepts and examples about the future in (and of) heritage studies. The question of future generations thought of as children is personally interesting to me. This chapter, by Sarah May, was quite provocative to me, mainly because it made me review my concepts about who we should secure the heritage for. As the author makes clear, if we “sacralize” children, it will make us lessen their roles as agents who do not need our care (as we think now), but who have their own independence, skills and concerns, in the present and in the future too. Likewise, the text by Holtorf and Högberg on the perceptions of the future present in the heritage of the Austrian city of Hallstatt made me think about how heritage will be valued when the technology of full-scale 3D replicas is good enough to produce copies of heritage which would help a lot, for example concerning rebuilding of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris or of the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, both buildings destroyed by fire. However, the questions that will always remain after reading this section of the book are these: who should we print these replicas for? Would it be as important for the future as it is for the present? The section on nuclear waste makes us rethink how delicate the issue of correctly informing future generations is: the production of nuclear material today, although it has decreased, leaves traces that will not be bequeathed to five or six generations: a existence of this toxic material is long term, reaching millennia. How will future generations know about these repositories if we don’t have a constant long-term information management plan? In addition to nuclear deposits, this concern should be a constant related to any heritage, as the book emphasizes all the time. It is also interesting the point in the book that draws our attention to the fact that we tend to create an infinite list of objects that qualify as heritage, but it is necessary to filter our choices, because the physical space they will have is finite. What should we preserve? Is heritage really more important than people in the present? Should we expropriate or ban the architectural constructions that would serve the people of today due to the presence of heritage? Wouldn’t we be “damaging” the construction of the future by doing this?

Cultural Heritage and the Future challenged much I took for granted. Previously, thinking of heritage not as a past but as a future did not bother me a great deal because, as an archaeologist and educator, it was clear to me that there is a need to preserve human actions in the landscape so that future generations could have access to cultural (im)materiality. However, the questions raised in the book made me more attentive to these issues: How should we preserve? For whom should we preserve? What should we preserve? What we consider a useful asset to be safeguarded will not always be useful for the future: we have to respect and understand that future generations have a voice and agency as well. Thus, I strongly agree with one of the leitmotives of the work: the future (and the preservation of heritage) is an ongoing process.

A very negative aspect of the book, in my mind, is the total exclusion of digitization technology from the topics covered: there is no chapter that deals with the fact that we digitize heritage and, above all, that this process generates an immense amount of data that must be physically stored in some place and also need constant maintenance and updating: how are we going to deal with this problem? If, as the book suggests, not everything should be physically preserved as heritage, why don’t we digitize cultural heritage before any destruction?

The book offers very interesting examples of what heritage is and how we should deal with it (for example, the case of nuclear material deposits), but unfortunately it ignores the existence of digitization/virtualization of sites, monuments and artifacts, which for every day that passes becomes more common in areas linked to human history. Nevertheless, Cultural Heritage and the Future‘s contribution as an ensemble is invaluable to the field—a must-read and necessary for everyone who cares about the future and what we will bequeath to those who come after us.

Review by Henrik B. Lindskoug

30 August, 2021

Cornelius Holtorf & Anders Högberg (eds) 2021 Cultural Heritage and the Future. Routledge, London & New York, xx+ 279pp. ISBN: 978-1-138-82901-5. 

Reviewed by 

Henrik B. Lindskoug, Instituto de Antropología de Córdoba-CONICET, Departamento de Antropología, Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Córdoba, Argentina. E-mail:

As archaeologists we are used to analyse the past, and we are well aware that the past is a construction in the present, but what about the future? We don’t discuss this topic to any larger extent, which is strange, since archaeology in a certain way is about gathering information about the past to next generations. However, in the last couple of years the future has emerged on the agenda in the archaeological literature (for example Reilly 2019; and various contributions in Waterton and Watson 2015) to mention just a few.

After reading Cultural Heritage and the Future edited by Cornelius Holtorf and Anders Högberg (2021), I have become convinced that we do not discuss the future enough. We should start asking ourselves: how do we actively engage with future making processes in our society? The archaeological practice including conservation is strongly tied with different processes to document and preserving material remains for future generations. But what do we decide to preserve and for whom?

The chapters in the book have a logical order, and the authors engage in provocative analysis in heritage and the future with highly relevant cases involving innovative interpretations and solid argumentation. In 17 chapters, divided into four sections, a range of well-known scholars from different disciplines discuss cultural heritage and the future from different standpoints and make valuable observations.

I am convinced that we must engage even further in this discussion and analyse our practices in the present to try to gain insight into the future. It can sound like an impossible task, but it is urgent, as discussed by several authors analysing nuclear waste management. These important discussions about the future are some of main strengths of the book, and, as I see it, one of the most important tasks for the new generations to come to solve this mess that we have created.

One of the weaknesses is the lack of global coverage. There are many examples especially from Europe and United States, some other parts of the world are analysed to a minor extent, such as Asia and Africa for example. Still there are no cases from Latin America whatsoever. This western/European perspective is worrying, the editors state in the introduction that they could not commission any paper of high quality from these regions. This is sad, since there is a lot of research on cultural heritage in Latin America carried out from a range of disciplines not only by archaeologists and anthropologists.

I also would have liked a greater participation from the museum sector in the book. The role of the museums in future making processes can be fundamental, and I am sure that there are many experts this sector that can contribute to this interesting and fundamental discussion on the role of cultural heritage and the future.

However, this edited volume can serve as an excellent guide to start questioning the role of the archaeological practice and heritage in future-making as analysed through different case studies. It is a great overview and, I hope that it will be essential reading to future research in the field of critical heritage studies and other related subjects. I expect that this book will generate a fruitful and healthy debate. Indeed, it is written for an academic community, but I am sure that this book will appeal to a much wider public interested in our future.

I strongly believe that we must reconsider the role of the future in archaeology and the opinions presented here can work as a fresh framework, since the book is melding different opinions and many vivid examples make the reader re-evaluate the future-making process in our society. After reading the various thought-provocative discussions by the different contributors, I am convinced that we must start to engage in these questions of what to preserve for the future in greater length. I think that the contributions in this book can serve as an excellent introduction for forthcoming studies about our cultural heritage.

Córdoba, 25 August 2021



Reilly, M. 2019. Futurity, Time, and Archaeology. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology 6(1): 1–15. 

Waterton, E. and S. Watson (eds.) 2015. The Palgrave Handbook of Contemporary Heritage Research. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Lärarutbildning och skola i framtiden

27 August, 2021

Cornelius Holtorf deltog i ett panelsamtal om lärarutbildning och skola som filmades och publicerades i samband med invigning av Universitetskajen Kalmar, 27 augusti 2021.

Panelen samtalar om lärarutbildningen och skolans dåtid, nutid och framtid. Vad kommer vara den viktigaste frågan för lärarutbildningen i framtiden och varför?

New article by Annalisa Bolin on Rwandan heritage and international relationships

10 August, 2021

The UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures’ Postdoctoral Fellow Annalisa Bolin has recently published “The Strategic Internationalism of Rwandan Heritage“, a fully open-access article in Journal of Eastern African Studies. The article covers heritage diplomacy, shared heritage and repatriation, and how heritage mediates the relationship between Rwanda and Germany:

“Heritage, a practice shot through with political forces, is mobilized by states within their international relationships through methods such as heritage diplomacy. Focusing on the connections between Rwanda and Germany, this article traces how heritage serves as a technique of foreign relations for the Rwandan state. The uses of heritage are shaped by the state’s higher-level political orientations, especially the project of agaciro, which pursues an agenda of increased sovereignty for Rwanda in relation to the rest of the world. This conditions how ‘shared heritage’ and heritage repatriation contribute to establishing strategic alliances and decolonizing, making heritage part of a suite of tools used to advantageously reposition the country in the international arena. The article deepens our understanding of the Rwandan state’s governing techniques and examines heritage’s role as a mediator of international relationships, even for less-powerful nations whose agency is sometimes neglected in discussions of heritage diplomacy.”

Before it is too late?

4 August, 2021

Cornelius Holtorf presented a paper entitled “Before it is too late? Narrating Nuclear Legacies Beyond Risk” in a session on “Nuclear Narratives” at the STREAMS – Transformative Environmental Humanities conference, organized by KTH, Stockholm (4 August 2021)

Nuclear narratives are most commonly stories of risk, whether that is the risk of radioactive contamination of the environment or, increasingly, the risk of loss of nuclear cultural heritage.

In his paper, Holtorf asked what it could mean to tell nuclear narratives and stories about nuclear cultural heritage that do not feature notions of risk. Such alternative nuclear narratives may be exemplified by pioneering nuclear artist James Acord’s explorations of practices of transmutation and alchemy and by the current political rehabilitation of nuclear energy for mitigating climate change, e.g. in the context of “Greens for nuclear energy“.


Kulturarv för gemensamma framtider

1 August, 2021

I ett nytt blogginlägg för Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe (EPALE) diskuterar Gustav Wollentz vad kulturarv kan göra för att öka känslan av tillhörighet i samhället hos nyanlända.

En av hans teser är att kulturarv kan fokusera på gemensamma framtider:

Att kulturarv är framtidsskapande och framtidsorienterat har belysts alltmer i den senaste forskningen, och just där finns också en potential i sammanhang med nyanlända, vilket dessutom tydliggjordes i några av de aktiviteter som genomfördes i projektet. Med utgångspunkt i de meningsskapande processer som kulturarv kan stimulera, går det att rikta blicken framåt. Vi har inte alla en specifik plats historia gemensamt men kanske kan vi bidra till att forma dess framtid tillsammans?

Här syns tydligt ett viktigt område för ‘heritage futures’.

Various activities April – June 2021

30 June, 2021

Cornelius Holtorf took part in an international planning meeting of the working group on “New Heritage Approaches” within the global project “Our World Heritage” and presented some of his own ideas on heritage futures, the World Heritage Convention, and future challenges to be addressed by the global heritage sector (1 April 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf attended two seminars dedicated to ‘Addressing the Climate Crisis Through Culture‘, organised by the Italian Presidency of the G20 group of nations and opened by Dario Franceschini, the Italian Minister of Culture. The seminars were addressing “The Impact of Climate Change on Cultural Heritage and Cultural Diversity” and “Culture-Based Solutions Driving Climate Action” respectively. Among the speakers was Debra Roberts, Co-chair of the Working Group II (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), who emphasised a changing focus of the work of the IPCC from initially identifying hazards via a phase of understanding impacts to the present concern with solutions. These discussions mark the first time that culture and climate change have been featured at the G20 (12 April 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf presented his work on cultural heritage and some ideas on the future of the World Heritage Convention to the employees of the Swedish UNESCO Commission at the Swedish Government Offices (14 April 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf and Anders Högberg introduced and led a discussion with all partners in our project Post-Pandemic Tourism Development on “Forms and Goals of Collaboration,” focusing specifically on the future development of the local visitor economy (15 April 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf actively participated in a round table on “The archaeological now: future world building,” held digitally as part of Stanford TAG Conference from the U.S. (2 May 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf was in conversation with Nicole Deufel discussing Future Archaeology at Volkshochschule Aalen (3 May 2021). The digital event, which was attended by ca 175 participants, was part of a Studium Generale Lecture Series on Cultural Heritage and organised in collaboration with Hochschule Aalen.

Cornelius Holtorf lectured on “The Swedish Model” for nuclear waste disposal for a group of 23 students taking courses in Architecture and Applied Ethics at the University Coburg, Germany (4 May 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf presented on “A future archaeologist’s ideas about anticipatory governance” for an international project group working on a joint application, led by Roberto Poli, UNESCO Chair in Anticipatory Systems, University of Trento, Italy (6 May 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf attended a session on “Globalt samarbete i en förändrad värld” during the conference Globalt samarbete för Agenda 2030 organised by Formas (18 May 2021). Among the speakers were Per Olsson Fridh, Swedish Minister for international development; Carin Jämtin, Director General, Sida; Åsa Regnér, Assistent Director General, UN Women; and Jens Henriksson, CEO, Swedbank. I got to ask Jämtin about the significance of culture for overcoming nationalistic politics and bringing about more global solidarity. She confirmed that culture is important for the work of Sida, too.

Cornelius Holtorf gave a lecture on “Future archaeology” for a joint event of five museums in the Region Västra Götaland, broadcast simultaneously on Facebook, Vimeo and various museum homepages (21 May 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf participated in a briefing on “Culture and COP26” held as part of the run-up of the Climate Heritage Network to the 2021 UN Climate Conference (COP 26). The UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures is a member of this network (8 June 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf presented a lecture on “Cultural heritage and memory: from the past to the future” for a digital audience of 130+ at the Centre for Comparative Studies of Cultural Heritage in China and Abroad at Hangzhou Normal University, China (11 June 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf participated in the third meeting of a working group of 16 European experts writing a White Paper on “Cultural Heritage and Climate Change: New challenges and perspectives for research” in a joint initiative of JPI Cultural Heritage and JPI Climate (15 June 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf presented a lecture on “Embracing Change” for an audience of 14 researchers and research students at the Future Urban Legacy Lab, Politecnico di Torino, Torino, Italy (17 June 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf presented on “Towards a People-Centred Approach to Selecting World Heritage Sites” and took part in a Plenary Roundtable on “Linking Archaeological Heritage to the Sustainable Development Goals” for a global audience of almost 50 colleagues attending the first day of the Annual Meeting of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Archaeological Heritage Management dedicated to the theme Towards a People-centered Approach (21 June 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf participated in the first Responsible Futures Workshop, led by Ted Fuller, UNESCO Chair on Responsible Foresight for Sustainable Development, UK, and Fabrice Roubelat, UNESCO Chair in Foresight and International Strategic Intelligence, France (23 June 2021).

Cornelius Holtorf participated actively and chaired one group discussion in the kick-off of the horizon scan study of the ICCROM foresight initiative (29 June 2021).

Our World Heritage

16 June, 2021

Cornelius Holtorf presented in two sessions dedicated to New Heritage Approaches, arranged in the context of the global campaign Our World Heritage.

On 14 June 2021, he presented and discussed the question “Which heritage will benefit future generations?” in a session on Modern, contemporary and future heritage, attended by a global audience of more than 40.

On 16 June 2021, he presented and discussed “Cultural Heritage Strengthening Human Resilience” in a session on Heritage Sustainability, Resilience and the Agenda 2030. The session formed concurrently part of the 6th Heritage Forum of Central Europe. 

Review by Giovanni Boccardi

15 June, 2021

Cornelius Holtorf and Anders Högberg, eds (2021) Cultural Heritage and the Future. London and New York: Routledge, London.

Reviewed by Giovanni Boccardi, Rome, Italy

In their recent book on Cultural Heritage and the Future, Högberg and Holtorf shed light on an inherent contradiction of the heritage sector: allegedly working for the benefit of future generations, the stated beneficiaries of todays’ cultural heritage conservation efforts, but giving little or no consideration to what the real future might look like and what those living in it may actually need. They find this contradiction paradoxical, since the heritage sector, of all human enterprises, should be especially aware and conscious of the dynamics of history and its transformative effects on societies.

The book makes a bold claim: we cannot say for sure that future generations will continue to appreciate and need what we today consider a valuable asset, i.e. our heritage, in the same way that they will need clean air, water, food, shelter, health or peace. This goes counter the prevailing rhetoric of the authorised heritage discourse and long-standing efforts to secure heritage a legitimate place next to other sustainable development concerns. The implications of this statement are far reaching and disquieting. Perhaps, through our work as heritage professionals, we are conserving too much of our environment, or the wrong things. Perhaps our efforts will be of no use to our children and grandchildren or, worse still, actually harmful to them since, as E. Avrami puts it in one of the books’ chapters: “conservation…is a creative destruction of alternative futures”. These ideas become especially relevant, the authors argue, in a world driven by powerful change factors such as globalization, demography and climate change, suggesting, if anything, that the people of tomorrow will have very different values from those that we hold today.

Building on this premise, the book sets out to explore – through a series of stimulating chapters – how heritage work could look like if it took seriously the challenge of factoring the future in its policies and operations. Two main potential strategies are identified: 1) improving conservation practice by integrating in it “scenarios of change”, developed through a variety of foresight techniques, which would also require the development of new competencies among heritage practitioners; and/or 2) adopting new types of adaptive decision-making processes that imply periodical reviews, allow for the participation of many stakeholders and thus can “best adjust to changing conditions of the future”. An obvious example would be setting a timeframe for heritage listing, after which a reassessment should be conducted.

Högberg and Holtorf make a valid point in suggesting that the heritage sector focuses too much on the present (called “presentism” in the book) and does not give adequate consideration to long-term future scenarios. Of particular relevance, in a context of climate change and demographic growth, is the discussion about the ever-increasing accumulation of heritage stock “for future generations”, which may become unsustainable and pose a real challenge to the societies of tomorrow.

At the same time, one may argue if it would be possible, or even fair, to expect from the heritage practitioners of today a concern for a future that, as the authors admit, is far from certain. To do so, to a certain extent, betrays a misunderstanding of the nature of heritage conservation as a pure cultural construct, very much determined by the “spirit of the time”. Regardless of its claim to work for the benefits of “future generations”, indeed, heritage conservation is, and has always been, very much about the present. Since the beginning of the heritage movement, in the 19th century, its purpose reflected the urge of societies for a sense of continuity and psychological security in a radically transforming world, an urge that was – and is – felt at the present moment.

Attempts to justify our actions by inscribing them within a grand scheme of higher principles and eschatological vision are a constant of human endeavours, from the founding of cities to geographic discoveries and to religious wars. Heritage conservation, a relatively recent cultural phenomenon in human history, makes probably no exception.

One should however not take these justifications too literally. In reality heritage work serves a very present concern and reflects the visions of the past and of the future we need to live now. Ultimately, it does not really matter what the real future will turn out to be. This is a problem for those who will be there when this future comes, and at that point, as Rudolff and Buckley put very clearly (quoted in one of the chapters of the book), “the future will take care of itself”.

There might be no point, thus, in trying to make heritage future-sensitive for the sake of heritage conservation itself. For what we know, heritage is a cultural phenomenon that has emerged at one stage in history and may well disappear at some point, like certain religious cults. In fact, it would be truly interesting to explore the possible implications for heritage of a certain number of key future drivers and trends, such as migration, climate change, globalization, technological progress, pandemics, and so on, something that the book touches upon but does not address specifically.

The real question is rather whether the heritage sector is doing the right thing, at present, in order to ensure that “future generations will be able to meet their needs”, quoting Brundtland’s famous definition of 1987. Avrami’s chapter on “Sustainability, equity and pluralism”, in this regard, makes a strong and convincing case for an integration of a concern for sustainability within heritage practices and for a shift from product to processes. A related question is what the heritage sector might provide, in terms of useful lessons, to help us facing some of the toughest challenges our societies will meet. The book addresses this in its enlightening chapters on the management of radioactive waste, stored in facilities that should last for thousands of years and convey the same messages over many hundreds of generations.

Overall, “Cultural Heritage and the Future” is an important book that opens up a number of critical questions for the heritage sector and for society in general, at a time when a growing sense of an impending “discontinuity” in our history seems to define much of our debates.

June 2021