Various activities April – June 2022

6 July, 2022

Cornelius Holtorf responded to the “Call for inputs to a report on cultural rights and sustainable development” by the UN’s Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Alexandra Xanthaki (9 April 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf and Anders Högberg participated in the second meeting of the Expert Group on Awareness Preservation (EGAP) within the project on Information, Data and Knowledge Management (IDKM) at the Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD), held in Gmunden, Austria (26-28 April 2022). They held presentations on “Futures Literacy” and “Heritage Processes” respectively.

Cornelius Holtorf met Vanessa Valentino who is supporting the Demand Generation Alliance (DGA), an international food alliance which is is seeking to shift society-wide preferences towards nutritious and sustainable food by leveraging socio-cultural strategies (5 May 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf and Anders Högberg attended the online workshop on The Time and Temporalities of Nuclear Waste, arranged by Thomas Keating, Linköping University (10 May 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf presented a lecture on “Towards an Archaeology of the Future” for an audience of more than 200 Doctoral students and researchers at the University of Warsaw’s Doctoral School of Humanities, Poland (18 May 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf participated in a workshop “Beyond Dystopia” at Linnaeus University Campus Växjö led by author Mats Söderlund and dedicated to forming a collaborative project involving a digital platform exploring climate change in relation to culture and the arts (19 May 2022).

Cornelius Holtorf reviewed a draft Guidebook on World Heritage Interpretation initiated by the Korean National Commission for UNESCO and offered detailed comments and suggestions for improvement in a coming revision (17 June 2022).

Our Common Agenda

22 June, 2022

Today I have been contributing to a Real-Time Delphi Study of The Millennium Project on foresight elements of the 2021 UN report Our Common Agenda.

The report makes several suggestions related to foresight. Here are my responses:

A Summit on the Future:

Such a Summit on the Future will draw global attention to foresight and futures thinking generally (much like the Rio Earth summit did).

The Summit on the Future needs to involve more than politicians, lobbyists, expert scientists, and celebrity activists. It should also involve a selection of ordinary people reflecting on their own lives and their cultural practices (I mean cultural in the ethnographic sense describing how people make sense of the world and live their lives accordingly). They will represent the billions of ordinary people.

A UN Futures Lab:

Include the theme of culture and how it may evolve in future decades, e.g. in the context of climate change and resulting migration, urbanisation, longer life expectancy, artificial intelligence, globalism, periodically shifting values. At the moment, culture is ignored in foresight and cultural practitioners ignore foresight themselves – as culture is widely assumed to be timeless (wrongly as we see in hindsight).

A Special Envoy for Future Generations:

Research shows that representatives (proxies) of future generations can sharpen decision-makers’ sensitivity to presentism, i.e. making decisions while assuming that the status quo is timeless and all futures will resemble the present. They can also support long-term thinking in decision-making.

See e.g. Kamijo, Y., Komiya, A., Mifune, N., & Saijo, T. (2017). Negotiating with the future: Incorporating imaginary future generations into negotiations. Sustainability Science, 12(3), 409–420.

Otten, M. (2018). Strong external representation of future generations: Legitimate and effective (Unpublished Masters Thesis.) Department of Philosophy, University of Leiden. .

Other suggestions:

Introduce Futures as a school subject.

World heritage and looking forward…

15 June, 2022

Architect and world heritage expert Roha Khalif recently published a very interesting paper on “Periodic Reporting under the World Heritage Convention: Futures and Possible Responses to Loss” in the journal The Historic Environment.

Partly drawing on our work on heritage futures, Khalif proposes

adding future-oriented questions to the questionnaire before the start of the fourth cycle [of the periodic reporting exercise]. This proposal offers actors in the World Heritage system an opportunity to have constructive discussions on futures and possible responses to loss. As a result, periodic reporting may become more forward-looking, proactive, and relevant to the challenges of the twenty-first century, especially climate change.

We will be following her work and may be able to establish some collaboration with Khalif in the future!

Histories of the Future

14 June, 2022

For a number of years I had been wondering why my historian colleagues did not seem to care very much about ever applying their many skills to making sense of the future as much as of the past. Both past and future are after all directly linked in the present.

Now a very nice looking book on Historical Understanding – Past, Present, and Future has been published that breaks new ground into exactly that direction. And I am very glad I could contribute with an essay on “Periodization of the future” …

Climate Ruins

23 May, 2022

Carbon Ruins’ is an exhibition project aiming to transport the visitor into a future where transitions to post-fossil society has already happened. The project is the result of several initiatives at Lund University, most notably the Narrating Climate Futures Initiative, the Climaginaries project and the think tank LU Futura.

Here is the pretext of the exhibition.

It is 2053. The Swedish government has just opened its landmark museum FOSSIL with its first exhibition Carbon Ruins. The exhibition and its grand opening is a celebration of the fact that global net-zero emissions of carbon dioxide were reached in 2050. Sweden, in line with its 2017 targets, reached net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases already in 2045, being the first country in the world to step out of the fossil era, which globally lasted between 1849 and 2049.

Intriguing, especially from a perspective informed by archaeology and cultural heritage (which does not seem to have informed the design of the exhibition)! I hope to be able to see it one day…

Collaboration with Tehran

18 May, 2022

We agreed today on a new collaboration of our UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures with the UNESCO Category II Centre on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in West and Central Asia at Tehran, Iran. Concrete activities will be subject to the availability of resources for implementing them.

The Tehran Centre had approached us initially in connection with a planned translation into Farsi of our volume Cultural Heritage and the Future (co-edited by Cornelius Holtorf and Anders Högberg in 2021 for Routledge).

Animation explains: What are Heritage Futures and why do they matter?

17 May, 2022

Watch the animation on YouTube!

Cultural heritage reminds us of the past and has present values and uses, but how will future generations benefit from it?

– This short animation explains the need for futures thinking among cultural heritage professionals.

More information about the Chair 

Follow our work: @UnescoChairLNU




Review by Patricia Brum

12 May, 2022

Echoes of Eternity: Cultural heritage and the future (co-edited by Cornelius Holtorf and Anders Högberg, Routledge 2021)

Reviewed by Patricia Brum, researcher at História, Territórios e Comunidades – CFE NOVA FCSH, Portugal. Email:

The book Cultural heritage and the future, published during the pandemic in 2021, is a first contribution for this 21st century research topic, which has already led to the establishment of the Unesco Chair on Heritage Futures in 2017.

Although not concerned with the future of cultural heritage per se, several authors stress the importance of including the future in heritage studies. Cultural heritage studies have not been entirely unaware of what is to come. Sustainability, heritage risk assessment, the effects of climate change on cultural heritage, and the disposal of archaeological finds due to lack of space are some of the future-related topics being discussed in heritage.

As defined by Cornelius Holtorf and Anders Hogberg, the co-editors of this volume, “Heritage Futures are concerned with the roles of heritage in managing the relations between the present and future societies” (p.144). After all, if heritage practitioners tend to justify their work as important for future generations, one may ask how much they are really incorporated in their work. Most authors’ background is in archaeology, as dealing directly with tangible heritage is very much part of this subject. Yet this book does not focus on tangible heritage alone. Several articles are dedicated to intangible cultural heritage, such as that from Luo Li, one of the non-archaeologists among the authors. In the future, the perspective of experts with additional specialisms of heritage theorization should be invited to further the debate. After all, historians, art historians and architects also deal with built heritage and the latter already tend to have less traditional/conservative views, integrating many times the past in new constructions and dealing more with the reflexion of what from the past can be kept or is useful for the future, although sometimes disregarding completely what the past has to offer for the future.

One can argue that the already wide diversity of what is considered heritage in this book, defined right in the beginning as “what reminds people of the past, tangible or intangible, predominantly cultural but also natural” (p. 2), has different layers of integrating “future thinking”. It is noteworthy that it is not the same dealing with the future in the case of the Acropolis (p.  168), a UNESCO World Heritage site, as in the case of Salvation Mountain (p. 96). Searching through the examples given in this book, it seems sensible to use those from World Heritage Sites. As such, the article by Rosemary Joyce is paramount, proving that it is possible to discuss heritage futures in the context of the most highly regarded heritage. The detailed example of the Orfordness Lighthouse by Caitlin DeSilvey explains very clearly the processes of heritage: how worries of the future are present in heritage and a concern for communities. The editors’ effort to ensure global geographical distribution of contributors and examples is noteworthy, although they themselves recognize this attempt as incomplete.

A specific section within the larger theme being presented is about existing projects dealing with space and nuclear heritage. Radioactive waste is often presented as cultural heritage in this book, even though no archaeologist opposes to such a classification for a Roman garbage dump or an islamic pit. One could argue that the real debate is whether garbage of our present or recent past will be treated as we treat heritage today.

It is hard to predict how heritage will evolve and even if this is not the goal of this collection of articles, this book is a contribution to incorporating thinking the future in a field which is traditionally associated only with the past. How do heritage practitioners include the future in their work? Does heritage legislation allow change? “Could the heritage sector improve its capacity to think the future?” (p. 2); “how can heritage conservation empower future generations to be agents of change rather the stewards of the past?” (p. 198); “how might heritage provide the continuity necessary for the formation of stable identities?” (p. 254). This book opens the way for many more questions to come and as such is a hopeful and much needed volume.

(A  Portuguese version of this review was published in Almadan online, July 2022.)

Dynamic team! UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures

9 May, 2022

UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures, team

UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures, from left: Leila Papoli-Yazdi, Annalisa Bolin, Sarah May, Cornelius Holtorf, Emily Hanscam, Helena Rydén, Anders Högberg.

Missing from the photo: Claudio Pescatore and Ulrika Söderström.

For the first time in two years, the members of the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures assembled in Kalmar 11-14 April 2022, for joint discussions, presentations about completed and on-going work, and for socialising. We finished off with an excursion to the World Heritage City of Karlskrona.

Photocredit Joakim Palmqvist/Linnaeus University

Check out more information on the team here:

Postdoc Annalisa Bolin concludes her time at the UNESCO Chair

3 May, 2022

At the end of April, Annalisa Bolin’s postdoc in the UNESCO Chair concluded after two and a half years. Her work over this period included an initial project focused on heritage repatriation between Rwanda and Germany and a second project investigating heritage development, decolonization, and community engagement in rural Rwanda. Further publications in journals and edited volumes are forthcoming, and will be available via her website and Twitter

journal articles (all open-access thanks to the LNU library):

The Strategic Internationalism of Rwandan Heritage

Rwandan Solutions to Rwandan Problems: Heritage Decolonization and Community Engagement in Nyanza District, Rwanda (with David Nkusi)

Heritage Futures: A Conversation (with Cornelius Holtorf)


After Repatriation, What Next?

What Does It Mean to Decolonize Heritage? (with David Nkusi)

Of Elites and Ethics: Who Interests Cultural Heritage Studies? Reflections from the Ethnography of Rwanda (in Portuguese, with Tiago Muniz)

Violent Encounters: Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Dynamics of Violence

Future Heritage and Fashion Design: Rwandan Traditional Culture in the Global Market

Corona Crisis, UNESCO, and the Future: Do We Need a New World Heritage? (with Cornelius Holtorf)

Research in Insecure Times and Place: Ethics of Social Research for Emerging Ecologies of Insecurity (with Tatiana Carayannis)

Coronavirus and the Changing Practices of Memory in Rwanda


The Future of Heritage Repatriation (video)

HumPodd (podcast)

Walk’n’Talk with Ulrikke Voss (video interview)


Bones of Buried Kings

Like Dogs (only audio available online)


She will continue to be linked with the UNESCO Chair as a researcher. Her next position is as a research associate at the Social Science Research Council, a New York-based think tank that mobilizes social science in the public interest and focuses especially on how research can inform policy. Here she works in the program on Understanding Violent Conflict on various projects, including on cultural heritage and violence