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

What do we mean when we say ‘forever’? In this theme, we compared three domains and explored how they can challenge, inform and strengthen each other: the heritage ‘forever’ that is present in designations like UNESCO’s World Heritage Site; the ‘forever’ of messages sent to deep space; and the ‘forever’ of nuclear waste disposal. We asked how these different futures are constructed and manipulated in the present. How can we recognise these futures in the world around us? Heritage is often said to be the human legacy preserved for the benefit of future generations. However, it typically remains unclear precisely when these future generations will live and how we can make the right decisions in the present with their best interests in mind. The main challenge lies in how to prepare for the future’s inherent uncertainty. The aim is to capitalise on the creative potential released by the common acknowledgement across these organisations of an uncertain future, with the intention to conceive of heritage differently. What happens when we come to see nuclear waste as heritage? How can a space message transform the human legacy? Can heritage help us reduce risks of future development on Earth? We specifically explored how the proposed Lake District World Heritage Site operationalises such visions of uncertain futures.



Heritage Futures at the 2018 Association of Critical Heritage Studies Conference


Members of the Heritage Futures research team will be convening and presenting at seven sessions at the Association for Critical Heritage Studies 2018 conference at Zheijang University in Hangzhou, China from 1st-6th September.


If you’re heading there, come check out (at least) one of our sessions. Or follow our twitter @Future_Heritage and website for updates resulting from these sessions.