UNESCO

Chair on Heritage Futures

Futures Literacy Laboratory

2023-09-25

Cornelius Holtorf and Anders Högberg co-organized and co-ran (with C. Kavazanjian, UNESCO, Paris, N. Christophilopoulos, UNESCO Chair on Futures Research, Greece, and M. Packer, OECD/NEA, Paris) the first Futures Literacy Laboratory in collaboration between UNESCO and OECD/NEA.

Picture: Rebecca Tadesse, Head of Radioactive Waste Management and Decommissioning Division at OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, welcomes participants

Dedicated to exploring “The Future of Human Responses to Deep Geological Repositories” a total 17 international participants were present at the Lab which was held at the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) in Stockholm (25 September 2023).

The Lab established the usefulness of the skill of futures literacy in the context of awareness preservation concerning long-term repositories of nuclear waste. Futures literacy encompasses both an awareness of the large significance of present-day assumptions about the future and an understanding of multiple alternative futures lying ahead of the contemporary world.

 

Taking care of nuclear waste

2023-07-21

Now published and available in open access:

Cornelius Holtorf (2003) Taking care of nuclear waste. In: Toxic Heritage. Legacies, Futures, and Environmental Injustice. Edited By Elizabeth Kryder-Reid and Sarah May (Routledge). 

This visual essay contains impressions and reflections about long-term communication concerning long-term storage of radioactive waste and was inspired by a visit to the nuclear facilities at Olkiluoto, Finland. The site is known from Michael Madsen’s 2010 documentary Into Eternity. The images refer in various ways to selected aspects of climate change, public acceptance, uncertainty, world heritage, and the art of forgetting.

Alternative futures in the past

2023-02-08

Attila Dézsi published one of the most challenging and insightful articles coming out of German archaeology in recent years.

His archaeological excavation and study of the 1980 Gorleben Peace Camp, which is also the topic of his PhD research at the University of Hamburg, offers a critique of the current interest in Dark Heritage and the popular denouncement of the destructive character of contemporary capitalism. Dézsi calls instead for a much stronger appreciation of the “common heritage of hope and the power of collective action,” for “[i]t is not only destruction to which archaeologists should draw attention, but also to the past efforts of many peoples who opposed this destruction and violation.”

The Gorleben antinuclear protest village, also known as Republic of Free Wendland, was an iconic site for the German environmental movement during the 1980s. It was directed not only against the building of the nuclear waste depository nearby but also against the nuclear society and the entire capitalist system behind it. Dézsi’s research documents that the camp was partly about outspoken protest but primarily it was a collective “cry for an alternative future based on human dignity.”

The archaeological site of the village created by its inhabitants reveals an approach to the future that may be described as prefigurative: in the Republic of Free Wendland, a better future was lived already (see image below, taken from the paper, click for source and credit).

figure 2

The archaeological excavation Dézsi directed showed in all lines of inquiry that “the creation of a community, socializing, and enjoyment was much more prevalent than specific manifestations of protest or resistance.”

Sites like the Republic of Free Wendland, Dézsi argues, “provide inspiration and give us the ability to grasp that alternative actions and solutions are neither impossible, nor require specialist equipment and materials – everything we need is there.”

His work also shows how the future can be addressed by an archaeology studying the past. It is not only the heritage we preserve that may provide tangible benefits of future generations, but also our very understanding of human lives in the past, including the recent past which some of us will remember. Dézsi’s research paper, which is available in open access at the link below, shows that alternative futures have always been possible.

Dézsi, Attila (2023). You May Destroy This Village, But You Cannot Destroy the Power Which Created It. International Journal of Historical Archaeology (pre-print online publication). 

Remembering the Past in the Future

2022-11-23

Cornelius Holtorf attended the conference “Remembering the Past in the Future” arranged by the Expert Group on Awareness Preservation of the Nuclear Energy Agency at the OECD at the Tabloo Visitor Centre in Dessel, Belgium (22-24 November 2022).

He organised and chaired a session on “Conceptualising Remembrance Across Generations” which was attended by an audience of more than 60. His own paper was entitled “History or heritage? Understanding cultural processes over time”. Anders Högberg participated virtually in the session and presented on “Futures literacy – Why it matters to transmit information on high-level radioactive waste to future generations.” The session ended in a lively discussion on what exactly the message might be that the present needs to send to the future in relation to long-term memory of final repositories of nuclear waste.

Into Eternity

2022-04-08

Cornelius Holtorf and Leila Papoli-Yazdi attended the Sixth International Conference on Geological Repositories (ICGR-6) in Helsinki, Finland (4-8 April 2022). The conference was held in the Paasitorni, a former Worker’s Assembly Hall now a transnational serial nomination for UNESCO World Heritage.

Among the topics discussed at the conference were questions about building trust in society and managing uncertainty. One irony is that ignorance and indifference may lead to trust whereas knowledge and engagement may result from (and support) distrust.

The conference included a site visit to the Finnish low- and intermediate-level waste repository and visitor centre (ONKALO) at Olkiluoto. The site became well known through the 2010 documentary Into Eternity.

 

Mångårigt SKB-samarbete med viktiga resultat

2022-03-10

När regeringen i januari 2022 sa ja till att bygga ett slutförvar för använt kärnbränsle i Forsmark i Östhammars kommun, lyfte flera aktörer frågan om hur informationsbevarande till framtida generationer ska utformas. Många menade att det nu är dags att växla upp forskningen om hur minnespraktiker och informationsöverföring till framtida generation ska organiseras och ske.

Sedan 2011 har jag och Cornelius Holtorf arbetat med dessa frågor. Det har vi bland annat gjort tillsammans med Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB (SKB). Med anledning av regeringens beslut blev jag nyfiken på vad SKB uppfattar att vårt arbete tillsammans har givit dem. Sofie Tunbrant är en av våra närmaste samarbetspartners på SKB. Under ett kort samtal med henne frågade jag vad hon ser som viktiga resultat från vårt samarbete.

 

Här är Sofie Tunbrants svar:

Under dessa lite mer än tio år har vårt samarbete bidragit på många sätt och jag vill speciellt lyfta fram två aspekter: ni har breddat våra perspektiv och ni har gett oss nya kontakter och därmed möjligheter att introducera frågan i flera sammanhang.

Ni har tagit med SKB in i många nya konstellationer där vi fått tillfälle att arbeta tillsammans inom områden och med personer som vi inte kände sedan tidigare. Ett av många exempel är att ni öppnat upp för oss att brett möta forskarvärlden, så vi har kunnat inleda samarbete med forskare och forskningsmiljöer. Ett fint exempel är vår medverkan i projektet Heritage Futures vid UCL, där vi blev inbjudna som partner. Ett annat exempel är tillfällen då vi kunnat mötas i gränslandet mellan forskning och konstnärlig gestaltning för att diskutera gemensamma frågor, som när ni arrangerade en workshop med rundabordssamtal i samarbete med kuratorn Ele Carpenter och Malmö Konstmuseum i anslutning till utställningen Perpetual Uncertainty.

Sammantaget har detta fått effekter hos oss på SKB. Vi har fått ett omfattande nätverk, som vi inte kunnat få till på egen hand. Det har hjälpt oss att utvecklas i våra sätt att se på och förstå frågan om informationsöverföring. Vi har också kunnat skapa en mer fördjupad kunskap om vad komplexiteten i frågan handlar om. På så sätt har vårt samarbete gett oss många nya insikter, kunskaper och möjligheter.

Ni har också tagit med SKB i nationella och internationella konstellationer som vi inte kunnat delta i utan vårt samarbete. Det gör att SKB har kunnat berätta om sitt arbete med informationsbevarande i nya sammanhang. Ett exempel är konferensen Information and Memory for Future Decision-Making i Stockholm 2019. Här kunde vi under tre dagars seminarier och diskussioner arbeta med frågan tillsammans med representanter från bland annat kommuner, miljöorganisationer och myndigheter.

Genom våra samarbeten har SKB kunnat introducera frågan om informationsbevarande i anslutning till slutförvaren med radioaktivt avfall i en mångfald av sammanhang. Det finns flera aktörer som arbetar med informationsbevarande på lång sikt, men som inte tidigare kopplat sitt arbete till SKB:s slutförvar. Att fler personer och aktörer känner till och reflekterar över frågan gör att den hålls levande. Det är avgörande för att samhället ska kunna arbeta med de lösningar som krävs för att framtiden ska ha de kunskaper och verktyg de behöver.

av Anders Högberg

Prof Anders Högberg UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures

Professor Anders Högberg UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures

 

Heritage Futures, webplats HÄR

Perpetual Uncertainty, info HÄR

Information and Memory for Future Decision-Making, rapport HÄR

Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten har nyligen publicerat en rapport där vårt arbete lyfts fram, den nås HÄR

Kärnavfallsfrågan i media

2022-01-27

Idag tar den Svenska regeringen beslutet om slutförvar för kärnavfall.

I det sammanhanget blev Cornelius Holtorf flera gånger de senaste dagarna intervjuat om långtidsminne av slutförvaret och kärnavfall. Anders Högberg intervjuades i Svenska Dagbladet.

Radio P4 Kalmar (27 jan 22): Så ska man kommunicera med svenskarna 100 000 år i framtiden

Radio P1 Studio Ett (26 jan 22): Hur ska slutförvaringen kommuniceras till eftervärlden?

TT 24 & 29 jan 22: Minibladet, Norrländska Socialdemokraten, Södermanlands Nyheter, Mariestads-Tidningen (2 feb 2022), Ny Teknik, Nya Wermlands-Tidningen, Nerikes Allehanda, Katrineholms Kuriren, Motala & Vadstena Tidning, Enköpings-Posten (31 jan 22), Aftonbladet, Dagens Näringsliv, E55, Helsingborgs Dagblad Premium, MSN, Sydsvenskan Premium, Göteborgs-Posten, Norran, Piteå-Tidningen, Vestmanlands Läs Tidning, Barometern (29 jan 22), Gefle Dagblad (27 jan 22), Västerbottens kuriren, Folkbladet Västerbotten (26 jan 22), Sydsvenska dagbladet (25 & 29 jan 22), Skånska dagbladet (24 jan 22), Nyheter 24 (24 & 29 jan 22). Hur pratar vi kärnavfall med framtiden?

Svenska Dagbladet (29 jan 22): Frågan om slutförvaret: Ska framtiden varnas?

Upsala Nya Tidning (3 feb 22)

Sveriges radio (5 Feb 2022), Juniornyheterna Special: Hur pratar man med framtiden?

Radiation Safety Authority follows

2021-11-15

In the new report “Redovisning av regeringsuppdrag om metoder för säkerställande av information och kunskap över lång tid för slutförvaret för kärnbränsle” (SSM rapport 2021:24), the Swedish Nuclear Safety Authority has been documenting known methods for achieving long-term memory in relation to nuclear waste repositories.


The report makes reference to the key literature and documentation in the field globally, while also discussing the specific situation in Sweden. We have long been in touch with the two authors Carl-Henrik Pettersson and Annika Bratt, and so it is not surprising that the work of Linnaeus University on this topic, both in Sweden and internationally, is mentioned on several occasions. This includes in particular a short separate discussion of the 2019 workshop Information and Memory for Future Decision-Making – Radioactive Waste and Beyond run by the Swedish Nuclear Waste Council in Stockholm and the VINNOVA project on Memory Across Generations it led to. There is also a short discussion of our research project Ett hundra tusen år bakom och framåt i tiden – arkeologi möter kärnbränsleförvaring supported by the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co back in 2012-2015.

We are still very involved in these issues, at the moment mostly as part of an expert group at the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency.

Lessons from heritage for nuclear waste disposal sites

2021-11-10

Cornelius Holtorf presented a paper by him together with Anders Högberg at the Interdisciplinary research symposium on the safety of nuclear disposal practices: Technical and Social Approaches to Managing the Hazardous Legacy of Nuclear Power Generation (10-12 Nov 2021) arranged by the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management in Germany (BASE).

The paper was entitled “Lessons from archaeology and heritage studies for the long-term preservation of records, knowledge and memory concerning deep geological disposal sites for nuclear waste” and its abstract is available as part of the conference proceedings at https://sand.copernicus.org/articles/1/287/2021/.

Forum Kulturarv

2021-11-09

Cornelius Holtorf and Helena Rydén represented the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures at the Cultural Heritage Forum “Cultural Heritage for the Future” held 8-9 November 2021 in Gothenburg, Sweden, and attended by 150 participants and 27 exhibitors.

Helena Rydén managed an exhibition displaying information about the Chair and samples of its publications and other work. Cornelius Holtorf held a one-hour plenary session on “We need to work more with the future in the cultural heritage sector!”, featuring a short lecture, two films, much interaction with the public, and a panel debate with Tina Lindström (Kalmar County Museum) and Johan Swahn (The Swedish NGO Office for Nuclear Waste Review, MKG). Together, we presented and discussed how the cultural heritage sector can work with the future and why this is important, with special examples taken from cultural heritage pedagogy (timetravelling to the future at Kalmar County Museum) and concerning long-term memory of repositories of nuclear waste. After the session, several participants described the experience as “an eye-opener”.