New book series Critical Heritage Studies: CUP elements series
The University of Gothenburg furthers its pioneering work in the field of Critical Heritage Studies with a new series published by Cambridge University Press. The series contains about 50 titles and will be available online.
Critical Heritage Studies is a new and expanding field of research and teaching, bringing together humanities and social science disciplines to explore the ways in which the past is used today. It covers research about what we choose to conserve and why, relations of power and the politics of the past in the present, among other things.
The Cambridge Elements series, launching in 2018, is a new concept in academic publishing and scholarly communication, combining the best features of both journals and books. A group of researchers from University of Gothenburg have been involved in developing this new format, including professors Kristian Kristiansen and Ola Wetterberg.
– We wanted to do a book series in order to raise the international profile for Critical Heritage Studies and provide up-to-date publications for scholars and students, says Professor Kristian Kristiansen.
One of the themes of the series will examine what happens to cultural heritage after a war including how to rebuild cultural heritage and how to document its destruction. Another theme will look at the role of digitization of cultural heritage, how digitalization makes information available to many people and what that accessibility means for future research.
– A further theme is cultural heritage and rights; who owns a certain cultural heritage and how is it used to define rights among, for example, minorities or nations? The list goes on, says Kristian Kristiansen.
The proposal states that cultural heritage has often been perceived to be compromised by its relationship to other areas, for example government policy, nationalist or localist agendas and the tourism and leisure industries. Heritage studies as a discipline do not, therefore, emerge naturally from any single academic field. At present, it is without an academic home.
– It is highly transdisciplinary and represents a critical response to the ongoing revival of everything heritage, good and bad. Here at the University of Gothenburg we have been at the forefront of this academic trend, by creating the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies seven years ago, and by being one of the initiators of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies formed in 2010.
"Cultural heritage is something that constantly risks being kidnapped by various agendas, political as well as commercial." All the major themes to be covered by the series derive from the politics of the past. Cultural heritage is about re-using the past in the present to shape the future. The editors face a set of challenges originating from the growing politicization of heritage, for example far right influences and the ways in which heritage is interpreted and practiced within the politics of memory production and identity politics. In short, cultural heritage is something that constantly risks being kidnapped by various agendas, political as well as commercial.
– We hope the series will raise awareness of the acute relevance of critically analysing and understanding the way heritage is used today to form new futures. We also hope it will lead to more teaching programs and research in this new field.