University of Gothenburg
Photo: Kollage av Linda Johansson

Materiality within museums, archives, cities and households in local, global and future perspectives.

The Heritage Academy and the CHS at the University of Gothenburg presents a two day seminar discussing materiality within museums, archives, cities and households in local, global and future perspectives. Short introductions to the presentations and links to the videos will be presented below. The first day will be presented in Swedish and the second in English. The venue for both days is the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg. 

14 October 2015
Samlingarna och samhället 2

Den 17 september 2014 arrangerades det första seminariet med tema samlingarna och samhället på Bohusläns museum. Inför seminariedagen Samlingarna och samhället 2 2015 ställdes bland annat frågan om vad som egentligen är museisamlingarnas potential i vår tid – vad är det vi gör med samlingarna? Fokus i presentationerna ligger på frågor om gallring, tillgängliggörande och etik ur både ett samtids- och framtidsperspektiv.

Hur ser målbilden ut, vilka perspektiv är vägledande och vilka samarbetsmöjligheter skapas?
Presentatörer: Museichef Karl Magnusson, Enhetschef Britta Söderqvist, Intendent Klas Grinell
Video VKMs arbete med tillgänglighet

Hur hanterar vi materialet? Vi har t ex mer än 900 mänskliga kvarlevor att ta hand om. Hur magasinerar och arkiverar vi detta? Vad är intressant forskningsmaterial och hur visar vi det bäst för publiken?
Presentatörer: Ulf Ragnesten, arkeolog, Göteborgs stadsmuseum
Karolina Kegel, antikvarie och arkeolog, Göteborgs stadsmuseum, Åsa Engström, intendent, Göteborgs stadsmuseum och Håkan Strömberg, pedagog, Göteborgs stadsmuseum
Video om magasinering och arkivering av arkeologiskt material

Etik kring gallring och avyttrande, liksom etik kring svåra samlingar/museer, exemplet personmuseer. Frågan om hur vi inte bara avyttrar, utan även glömmer obehagligheter på museer, kommer att lyftas.
Presentatör: Stefan Bohman, ordföranden i Svenska ICOM
Video Gallring, avyttring, glömska

När vi som arbetar med kulturarv sparar och konserverar för framtiden gör vi det med motivet att det som finns nu också ska finnas i framtiden. Framtiden är alltså en anledning till att göra på ett visst sätt idag. Denna framtid kommer diskuteras. Hur ser den ut i kulturarvsbranschens tankegods? Samtal om hur man kan tänka om framtiden för att skapa fördjupad förståelse av vad kulturarvsframtider kan vara.
Presentatör: Anders Högberg, docent arkeologi, Linnéuniversitetet
Video Kulturarvsframtider

15 October 2015 Curating Overflow

The main purpose of this seminar day is to summarize and bring out key issues and critical examples from the work and discussion in the three present clusters of the CHS (Critical Heritage Studies) at the University of Gothenburg, and create a base and inspiration for the forthcoming work of the clusters. The tree clusters Staging the Archives, Globalizing Heritage and Curating the City had a section each during the day. Introducing CHS video

Within the theme of Curating Overflow, the cluster’s presentations concerned the possibilities and difficulties involved in digitizing archival material: on the one hand producing vast materials, on the other hand developing methods of handling them. In focus were three projects: one on new ways of structuring, representing and understanding Moravian culture; one on "Curating Mary Digitally: Representations of Medieval Material Culture in Installations and Online Archives” and one on new ways of understanding the artist by coordinating different archives. Staging the Archives explores material and conceptual archives from a number of angles, from the gathering, documentation and representation of material artefacts over the problems of immaterial cultural heritage to the many questions of how digitization and digital methods change the conditions – technological as well as ideological and political – of the field.

One of the cluster leaders Christer Ahlberger was moderator for the presentations. Presenters were: 
Cecilia Lindhé, director of the Centre for Digital Humanities that has been established from the efforts of the Archives cluster, previously director of HumLab Umeå, involved in several projects one of which concerns digital representations of medieval materials. Video Lindhe

Jonathan Westin, sub-cluster leader and affiliated to the CHS also as one of the organizers of the conference Challenge the Past/Diversify the Future (March 2014) and as participant in the project "Conjuring up the Artist from the Archives: Ivar Arosenius. Digitization and Koordination of Archives for Enhanced Accessibility and Research”. Video Westin

A central theme within the Globalizing Heritage cluster concerns the flows of used, aging and obsolete material culture that crisscross the globe. Within the modernist paradigm, these flows have tended to end up in either one of two “end stations”: the valuable stuff in the museum, and the worthless in the garbage heap. As these iconic institutions of modernity increasingly are under pressure to cope with inevitable processes of material transformation and reoccurrence, as opposed to the ideals of preservation (in the museum), or disappearance (in the garbage heap), different forms of handling used stuff emerge. These may involve reuse and recycling as well as novel and alternative forms of heritage and future-making.

The Cluster leaders Anna Bohlin and Staffan Appelgren were moderators during the slot. Presenters were: 

Jennie Morgan, University of York. Jennie is involved in a UK-based partner project, Assembling Alternative Heritage Futures, and she speaks about her experiences from research on the choices, understandings and strategies involved when people keep or discard things in the household. Video Jennie Morgan

Staffan Holm - As a Gothenburg-based designer, Staffan Holm has experimented with different approaches to broken but treasured things. Inspired by the Japanese tradition of kintsugi, Holm speaks about the possibilities opening up when repairs are highlighted rather than hidden. Video Staffan Holm

Will Straw - Are cities repositories for memories? Following the paths of used material objects in the urban landscape of Montreal, Professor Will Straw, Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, explores the waxing and waning of different forms of popular culture and their material traces. Video Will Straw

Gregg Segal
California-based artist and photographer Gregg Segal has recorded reflections from the making of his acclaimed project 7 Days of Garbage, where people are photographed lying in a week’s worth of their own trash. 


he theme for this section is to inspire our thinking around cities in the light of their palimpsest character and the possibilities it offers as places and spaces of engagement. Indeed, urban heritage confronts scholars and policy makers alike with a number of questions and dilemmas about how to deal with tangible-and-intangible aspects of the existing city fabric. This theme aims to explore how heritage practitioners and heritage practice ‘curate’ the past, present and future of cities, in terms of defining, preserving and mediating urban heritage in a broad sense. This entails negotiation over aesthetic regimes, intervention in planning, as well as proactive measures in order to understand, develop and conceptualize the urban heritage landscape. It also entails promoting dialogue and participation, navigating the threshold between multiple institutional and non-institutional actors, such as grassroots movements, NGOs, private entrepreneurs and various official bodies.

The cluster leaders Henric Benesch and Ingrid Martins Holmberg were moderating the theme and taking part in the book release panel. Invited as presenters were: 

Gabi Dolff-Bonekämper, Prof. Dr. phil, Technical University of Berlin. Gabi, who is professor in Urban Heritage preservation at the SRI, Berlin, has a fascinating solid career as a former head of heritage documentation of the City of Berlin after the removal of the wall. She is also a scholar of the Getty Conservation Institute. Her talk on “Urban collections and redistributions” will illustrate the complex interrelationship of objects and location in the context of urban museums. Video Dolff-Bonekämper

Astrid Swenson, Senior Lecturer Brunel University London. Astrid’s research focuses on understanding cultural heritage historically and transnationally. Most of her writing centres on nineteenth and twentieth century Europe, but some has a more contemporary and more global focus. Fundamentally, she is interested in how individuals and societies relate to the past, how knowledge moves across cultures and how locality and globality relate. She is a fellow of the University of Cambridge and has, since 2010, co-direct an international project on ‘Border of Heritage’, hosted at the EHESS in Paris. Here, she will give her talk on an emerging field of research, “Curating the Senses”, which is a fascinating and thrilling re-reading of some of the preservation classics. Video Swenson

Heritage as commons – Commons as heritageHenric Benesch, Christine Hansen, Ingrid Martins Holmberg, Pascal Prosek and Linda Shamma. This book release panel gathered a few of the many enthusiastic authors, editors and designers of a book that, per se, mirrors the mode in which it came into being: commoning, rich perspectives, and not at least the sensitive seminar format that could give birth to new ways of combining ideas about and perspectives on heritage. Under the limber moderating by Ola Wetterberg, the panel developed into a nicely tuned conversation, to be continued.  Video Talk on Heritage as commons – Commons as heritage

14 October 2015 Video: Samlingarna och samhället 2

Video (20:55)
Critical Heritage Studies - Heritage as Common - Common as Heritage
Video (1:07:17)
Världskulturmuseets arbete med att tillgängliggöra samlingar i muséet
Video (1:02:22)
Kulturarvstider - vad betyder det egentligen?
Video (59:41)
Gallring, avyttring, glömska
Video (48:53)
Göteborgs Stadsmuseum om magasinering och arkivering av arkeologiskt material

15 October 2015 Video: Curating Overflow

Video (42:34)
Critical Heritage Studies - Urban Collections and Redistributions
Video (32::59)
Critical Heritage Studies - Precious - An Exploration of Narrative Repairs of Artefacts
Video (53:03)
Critical Heritage Studies - Ivar Arosenius - Conjuring Up the Artist from the Archives
Video (37:21)
Critical Heritage Studies - Curating Mary Digitally - Representations of Medieval Material Culture in Installations and Online Archives
Video (45:56)
Critical Heritage Studies - Curating the Senses
Video (34:14)
Critical Heritage Studies - Assembling Alternative Heritage Futures - Curating Profusion in Homes and Museums
Video (49:19)
Critical Heritage Studies - Waste - Visible and Invisible

Critical Curatorship: Objects, Archives and Collections in Ethnographic Museums

PhD workshop 19 - 23 May, 2014  
Collections stores of the Swedish National Museums of World Culture, Gothenburg

Critical Heritage Studies at Gothenburg University and the Swedish National Museums of World Culture, Gothenburg are pleased to announce a one-week PhD workshop to be held from 19th to 23rd May, 2014 in critical curatorship.

Although there has been intense review of ethnographic museums and their founding discourses over the past four decades, most often through analysis of exhibitions and public programs, the museological practices surrounding catalogues, archives and object magasins/storehouses have been subject to less scrutiny. This week long workshop in critical curatorship will skip over an examination of ethnographic museums’ much analysed public interface and instead go ‘behind the scenes’ to look at the deep ideologies rooted in collections and their archives and catalogues. Using historic material from the stores, students will explore the complications and possibilities of ethnographic objects within the shifting politics of the contemporary world.

The program is conceived as a series of masterclasses in practice and critical thinking, where workshop participants will reflect on: embedded (and submerged) colonial narratives; the possibility of decolonization; the reality of epistemic diversity; the politics of knowledge production; and the representation of conflicts and contests in the collections’ histories. Across the course of the week students will participate in a series of seminars, discussions and practice studios with renowned semiotician Walter Mignolo, Sami museum of Ájtte curator Sunna Kuoljok, acclaimed museum director and commentator Jette Sandahl and head of the Curatorial Department at the Tropenmuseum of the Netherlands, Wayne Modest.

During the week students will be required to make a 20 minute presentation of their thesis topic, attend the series of masterclasses and seminars and participate in the hands-on curating studios.


Travel and accommodation

The Dimensions of Heritage Value PhD course, Gothenburg, Sweden

Critical Heritage Studies in cooperation with The Nordic Graduate School in Archaeology

Sep 16, 2013 - Sep 20, 2013, University of Gothenburg, The Ågren Residence

The most defining and enduring aspect of the 1972 World Heritage Convention was its novel concept of 'universal heritage value'. At the time the idea was to keep the definition of universal value as open and fluid as possible. However, the dominant bureaucratic and ideological framing of applications and procedural advice given led to the bias towards the monumental, art-aesthetic and architectural that subsequently resulted in the WHC being heavily criticised for its 'Eurocentrism', with an excessive focus on the monumental as expressions of genius, as well consolidating UNESCO’s role as the legitimator of global heritage (privileging a bias towards the nation/ states party as the originator and final arbiter of what constituted 'cultural property'). Following the recognition of the limitations of such 'heritage values' a shift occurred towards alternative forms of 'heritage value' based upon typicality rather than uniqueness. New heritage typologies - 'cultural landscapes', 'intangibility', 'urban historical landscapes' etc - was acccepted and has had consequences or the conceptualization of heritage value.

As part of the response to criticism, the idea of what constitutes 'heritage' has expanded rapidly from individual buildings and monuments to a broader idea of human creativity – both tangible and intangible. A focus on physical entities alone is no longer possible and the management of heritage should recognise context as a living and evolving environment. Also the views of experts and 'expert knowledges' has come under greater scrutiny and contestation. Democratising heritage and the recognition of diversity have become part of the general discourse of an interdisciplinary field. Complexity would therefore be cited as a watchword for an ethical approach to understanding heritage value as central to a values–based management approach.

How these aims are or will be implemented and by whom remain broad and visionary in scope at the moment. The course will be devoted to understanding both the intellectual legacies of these developments and their future effects.

The course will be focusing on two general and interrelated themes, where the applicant relates two preferably one of the two in her/his applications.

This theme will focus on the immaterial dimensions of heritage value, specifically health/mind/fantasy and identity in relation to 'outer worlds' - as well as how immaterial heritage is given fixity and form as substance and through material objectification. Immateriality has a longer term salience in philosophical terms (cf Whitehead) but in this context it relates to a conceptual crisis in the official heritage discourse. The original 1972 convention idea of heritage value was based on experience of cultural loss but recent arguments address fears of over abundance of the past and uncertainty about its value and efficacy. In the last decade there has been a significant shift of attention to issues of wellbeing and health, to understanding the concept of loss of identity as well as fears of an over abundance of the past, and to inquiries into the shift from material science to cultural values. Notions of health and well being are culturally conditioned and transmitted by perceptions of the body, emotions and morality, and recently the idea of heritage value has been employed particularly in post conflict conditions dealing with post trauma, the restoration of dislocations in space and place and needs for commemoration. Intangible heritage has also led to a revitalising of what had previously been designated as folklore studies and 'folkloric' has become recognised as ’living cultures' very much embedded in the present both as the continuation of knowledge and practices associated with skill, performance and cultural well being. New forms of documentation and the recording of intangible heritage have also become available through the expansion of digital technologies consistent with the promotion of cultural diversity and the protection of indigenous knowledges.

This theme will focus on the materiality and commodification of heritage value, with a specific focus on the forms of transformation of heritage value. The argument that heritage value can be transformed into economic value takes many forms and certainly the idea of conservation and preservation of the past has for long been seen as sustaining the market in antiquities, auction houses and design. Heritage and development includes studies of advocacy organisations both as public participation in and protest to heritage development and to map the diverse ‘actors’ in such operational networks. From macro to micro contexts we may examine how, for example, the World Bank, UN/ UNESCO, the Getty, the Aga Khan Foundation, interact with other ‘actors’ such as assemblies of Indigenous Peoples/ Survival International and national. Heritage as economic value treats the creation of heritage as a resource for sustainable development and may address the evaluation of tourism; the circulation of heritage value through auctions and antiquity sales as well as the accumulation and storage of value through archives, conservation, documentation and the role of guidebooks and travelogues in isolating and identifying value.

The course work will be structured as short lectures with established researchers and full day seminar sessions with the work of the studnets in focus. The second day will be a full day excursion. Before the course starts, each PhD student will prepare a paper for pre-circulation, addressing her or his research project in relation to one of the two general course themes. The maximum length of the paper is 10 pages (Times New Roman 12, Spacing 1,5). In the course of the seminars, each paper will be allotted c. 1 hour, beginning with the student presenting a 15-minute summary of its contents. One of the other PhD students will be selected in advance as a discussant and comment for about 10 minutes, after which she or he will then chair an open discussion on the paper for app. 30 minutes. The etablished researchers will give lectures as well as participate in the discussion of PhD presentations.

Mike Rowlands (UCL), Rodney Harrison (UCL), Lynn Meskell (Stanford), Beverly Butler (UCL), Cornelius Holtorf (Linnæus University). Additional researchers will be involved, mainly as discussants.

Professor Mike Rowlands, University College London, UK.

1 month or 7 ECTS

Location, travel and costs 



Lisa Karlsson Blom, Project Assistant, Critical Heritage Studies, Department of Historical Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Phone +46 (0)768 078 342.

Lene Melheim, Administrative Officer, Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, University of Oslo, Box 1008 Blindern, N-0315 Oslo, Norway. Phone: (+47) 22841957, Mobile (+47) 99755435, Fax: (+47) 22841901.