Heritage Futures

April 2015 — March 2019

Principal and Co-investigators
Rodney Harrison (Principal Investigator)
Cornelius Holtorf (Co-Investigator)
Caitlin DeSilvey (Co-Investigator)
Sharon Macdonald (Co-Investigator)

Research Organisations
UCL and partners

Funding sources

Dates of funding
April 2015 – March 2019

Heritage Futures is a 4-year research programme (2015-2019) funded by a c.£1.6million UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Care for the Future Theme Large Grant (‘Assembling Alternative Futures for Heritage,’ AH/M004376/1), and supported additionally by its host universities and partner organisations. The project is carrying out ambitious interdisciplinary research to explore the potential for innovation and creative exchange across a broad range of heritage and related fields, in partnership with a number of academic and non-academic institutions and interest groups. It involves around a dozen academic researchers based at 5 different universities and collaborates with more than 20 different partner organisations.

The research programme is structured around four themes, each of which identifies a challenge for the future of heritage and looks at a range of institutions which aim to tackle it in various ways. The themes are:

Uncertainty – How is the uncertainty of the deep future conceived of and managed in different fields of conservation practice?

Transformation – What values are associated with heritage structures and landscapes that are allowed to undergo transformation and change?

Profusion – How do museums and people in their homes decide what to keep in the face of mass production and consumption?

Diversity – How are biological, cultural, genetic, and linguistic diversity categorised and conserved, and what can one field learn from another?

The research programme considers sets of practices within a range of different domains which are dedicated to conserving and perpetuating ideas, words, objects, places, species, persons and things into the future. We believe that a comparative analysis of different kinds of conservation and preservation practices will expand the notion of heritage in creative and productive ways. Our research aims to provide intellectual and practical templates for alternative ways of thinking about and managing heritage and other conservation targets. It also aims to highlight the advantages and problems of particular approaches and show what can be done otherwise, opening up the question of what we mean by ‘heritage’ and how this might be understood in the future.

The project is distinctive in its comparative approach which aims to bring heritage conservation practices of various forms into closer dialogue with the management of other material and virtual legacies such as nuclear waste management. It is also distinctive in its exploration of different forms of heritage as distinctive future-making practices.

Further information can be found on the Heritage Futures website at www.heritage-futures.org