Posts Tagged ‘world heritage’

Taking care of nuclear waste

Friday, July 21st, 2023

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.

World Heritage for the Anthropocene

Wednesday, July 19th, 2023

Now published:

Holtorf, Cornelius (2023) Towards a World Heritage for the Anthropocene. In: N.Shepherd (ed.) Rethinking Heritage in Precarious Times: Coloniality, Climate Change, and Covid-19. Routledge.

The 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention was created to contribute to peace and security in the world. However, contrary to the original intentions, world heritage sites are in practice not considered as the world’s shared heritage but frequently championed by their respective nation-states which focus on distinguishing ‘our’ from ‘their’ heritage and thus reinforce existing divisions. In this chapter, I discuss what could be done to adopt a more people-centred approach to world heritage. One approach is to introduce participative decision-making in the selection process. Another is to adopt new criteria for selecting global world heritage that serve better the interests of humanity and indeed the original intentions of UNESCO with the Convention. I present some concrete suggestions for such criteria and three examples of world heritage that might then be selected.

50 Years UNESCO World Heritage

Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

Wars, pandemics, artificial intelligence, a swiftly unfolding climate crisis… The world is changing rapidly, and human communities must adapt to many challenges. In this situation, world heritage presents something of a twofold paradox: when the world needs global solidarity and collaboration, world heritage sites serve as cultural totems of the different nation states, which themselves can be in conflict. As we anticipate and adapt to change, world heritage looks backward, encouraging us to conserve what was before. Fifty years after the establishment of Unesco’s World Heritage Convention, it is time to look ahead – literally.

Continue reading (open access):

To adapt to a changing world, heritage conservation needs to look toward the future published in The Conversation on 20 September 2022.

World heritage and looking forward…

Wednesday, June 15th, 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!

Into Eternity

Friday, April 8th, 2022

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.


Designing the Future of the Past

Thursday, February 17th, 2022

Cornelius Holtorf was invited as a keynote speaker and presented on “Futures Literacy: How to Bring World Heritage Up To Date” for more than 20 participants in the international Doctoral student seminar entitled Designing the Future of the Past held at the Politecnico di Torino, Italy (17-18 February 2022). – His first trip after the pandemic to meet colleagues and students abroad!

The agenda of the seminar was very exciting indeed. It involved to present

the contemporary discourse in the conservation field across the emerging theories of Critical Heritage Studies, Counterpreservation, Curated Decay, Negative Legacies, and Ruination. Such novel theories challenge an unquestioned relationship between design practice and preservation, considering the past as an active force for shaping the future, and opening new options for intervention (or not) on preexistences.

Action for World Heritage

Monday, January 17th, 2022

In 1 December 2020, Cornelius Holtorf commented on the draft Action Plan for implementing the National World Heritage Strategy of the Swedish National Heritage Board.

In early November, the revised final version of the Action Plan for implementing the National World Heritage Strategy in Sweden was published.

Thanks to our suggestion, the plan mentions a need for increased collaboration between Universities and domains of practice to contribute to knowledge development concerning world heritage work. The UNESCO Chair at Linnaeus University is specifically mentioned to be involved in a survey of expertise on world heritage work available at Swedish Universities, in order to strengthen collaboration between research, education and practice. 



Historic cities and the future

Thursday, December 16th, 2021

Cornelius Holtorf was invited to contribute to an Experts Round Table as part of the World Heritage City Lab – Historic Cities, Climate Change, Water, and Energy convened by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands in the context of the 10th Anniversary of the UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) (16-17 December 2021).

In his contribution on 16 December, addressing approx. 90 global participants, he argued for the significance of futures literacy in making strategic decisions on the historic urban landscape, keeping in mind changing social, cultural and economic processes and values, as emphasised in the HUL Recommendations with its strong people-centred approach.

Our World Heritage

Wednesday, June 16th, 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. 

The Bamiyan Buddhas – what next?

Friday, December 11th, 2020

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?