Call for Book Chapters: Cultural Heritage and the Future

Anders Högberg and I are currently co-editing a volume for Routledge on Cultural Heritage and the Future. We have already received some manuscripts and others are in the works but we realize that we could still include a couple more contributions that push the envelope a little further. 

We are looking for authors based in South America, Africa or Asia who have interesting perspectives on the future in relation to heritage. Graduate students with interesting ideas are especially invited to come forward. Female scholars who are working from the perspective of other disciplines than archaeology are particularly welcome (for reasons of balance). 

Any contribution must be relevant to the scope of the book described like this:

This book will for the first time bring together a diverse, international group of scholars and experts interested in the relations between cultural heritage and the future. Many present-day heritage practices associated with the authorized heritage discourse tend to be motivated by the desire to preserve the remains of the past for the benefit of future generations. Curiously, however, the future has never before attracted substantial research and debate in heritage studies and heritage management.

The idea of preservation for the future is a fundamental paradigm of heritage management but slogans such as ‘preserving the past for the future’ are little else than catchphrases. They are intended to project a forward-thinking image that mostly serves to give a future not to the past but to the slogan’s origin. It is important to ask critically whose present-day interests vague references to the future are actually serving.

Despite tight links between cultural heritage and the future, academic literature exploring the futuristic dimensions of heritage is scarce. The present book offers a balance of theoretical and empirical content. Intended to stimulate multidisciplinary debate and discussion the book will explicitly address an interdisciplinary audience within heritage studies and heritage management.

The book consists of three sections, each addressing a different aspect of culture heritage and the future. The first section, entitled “The future in heritage studies and heritage management”, deals critically with ways in which heritage research and the heritage sector think, talk and act in relation to the future. It is often stated (and even more often assumed) that cultural heritage needs to be preserved for the benefit of future generations. But it is seldom asked which future generations are actually addressed – is heritage to be preserved for 5, 50, 500, 5,000 or 50,000 years? Given the assumption that future generations will in one way or another value what we leave for them, what does the field of heritage studies actually know or assume about the future and how is this translated into heritage-related practices and policies? Moreover, how will future generations actually be affected by the cultural heritage we preserve for them and how can we maximize their benefits?

Section two on “The future in culture heritage” explores the materiality of future heritage. Cultural heritage often contains material futures. Whereas some buildings or artefacts (completed or imagined) are manifestations of particular perceptions of the future in the past, other forms of cultural heritage invite future generations to continue, change or complete them as they deem appropriate. How will these past and present futures affect future presents? What do they reveal about our own present?

If much of our tangible heritage is the rubbish of the past, does that mean that our own rubbish will be the heritage of the future? How do we take care of hazardous rubbish so that it does not become a liability for future generations? More generally, what can heritage management learn from how industrial projects deal with the challenge of communicating with future generations, e.g. concerning final depositories of nuclear waste? Taking an over­arching, historical perspective how may heritage studies and the professional identity of heritage managers change in the future? How can we best assure the sustainability and longevity of the heritage institutions themselves? And what if the future is already past anyway? These issues are discussed in the final section of the book that is concerned with “Re-thinking heritage futures”.

Please send a preliminary title and an abstract of 100 words to Cornelius (cornelius.holtorf@lnu.se) at the earliest opportunity. Deadline for submissions will be May 2016.

Thank you all! 

Cornelius + Anders