Why sustainably managing the past requires to anticipate the future
In this lecture, Prof. Holtorf presents the work of the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures and argues that for cultural heritage conservation to fulfill its aims in society it must address challenges of the future. Significantly, UNESCO first conceived the conservation of world heritage as a means of fostering peace and security in the world after 1945.
This emphasis on solving problems in the long term means that foresight and anticipation ought to be essential for heritage management. At present, however, this is not common practice, as cultural heritage is often considered to have timeless values and benefits. By means of concrete examples for some of the world’s future challenges that can be addressed through cultural heritage (and specifically through UNESCO World Heritage), Prof. Holtorf debates and describes how we approach and conceptualize the very idea of cultural heritage across the planet.
Cornelius Holtorf is Professor of Archaeology and holds the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures at Linnaeus University in Kalmar, Sweden. He is also directing the Graduate School in Contract Archaeology (GRASCA) at his university. In his research, he is particularly interested in understanding the interface between cultural heritage, present society and the future. He has been collaborating for more than a decade with the nuclear waste sector and is currently exploring the role of culture in the context of global policymaking related to climate change and sustainable development.
He is the author of the books From Stonehenge to Las Vegas (2005), Archaeology is a Brand! (2007) and has co-edited collections of papers on The Archaeology of Time Travel (with B. Petersson, 2017), Cultural Heritage, Ethics and Contemporary Migrations (with A. Pantazatos and G. Scarre, 2019) and Cultural Heritage and the Future (with A. Högberg, 2021). He has also co-authored the picture book Wow! The Future is Calling! (with P. Frid, 2021).