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A Contemporary Provocation: Reconstruction as tools of future-making

Can the reconstruction of heritance play an important role in the process of re-building society in the wake of destructive events? This question was addressed by a recent workshop, led by Cornelius Holtorf, Toshiyuki Kono and Loughlin Kealy under the auspices of the ICOMOS University Forum, and organised by ICOMOS, with sponsorship from Kyushu University (Japan).

Some thirty specialists, both young researchers and senior professionals from around the world (and including Heritage Futures PI Rodney Harrison), met for discussions on authenticity and reconstruction at ICOMOS International in Paris over two and a half days from 13-15 March 2017.

Participants had been chosen on the basis of extended abstracts addressing central concerns about emerging challenges for heritage management posed by recent destructions caused by war or natural causes. Three working groups, with one animateur responsible for “stirring the pot”, addressed a series of issues “From Nara to Nara+20: where is authenticity now?”; “Creating heritage – making futures?”; and “Conservation as management”. Each group discussed a wide range of concepts and ideas, helping participants in enhancing their own ideas and thus developing more thoughtful practices.

It became clear that neither reconstruction nor conservation (nor indeed destruction) are ever innocent. There are many relevant aspects to consider regarding how, in each case, the best outcome can be achieved for the people affected. The workshop contributed to our ongoing collaborations with ICOMOS on questions of heritage as future making practices.