Heritopia. World Heritage and Modernity

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The aim is to explain and understand the meaning of the past in the present by investigating a global and prominent example of heritage, namely World Heritage sites. A further aim is to integrate two perspectives, Canonical and Critical heritage. The main question in short: What is the relationship between heritage and modernity?

The starting point is a number of paradoxes, which are formulated after scrutinizing the famous campaign in the 1960s to rescue the temples at Abu Simbel in Egypt: The past is impossible to preserve for eternity; all preservation implies change; preservation of one site normally means destruction of others; threats are important to create heritage, but at the same time heritage can become a threat and threats can become heritage themselves; heritage stands in contrast to modernity and is at the same time part of it; both the increase and the decrease of modernity seem to create heritage; finally, heritage may at the same time be global and local.

The investigation is divided into 7 chapters: Chapter 1 is an introduction, where the main questions with their paradoxes are presented using Abu Simbel as a recurrent example. Chap. 2 investigates motives for preserving and using the past. Chap. 3 investigates theories which all have in common that the interest in the past is explained as a compensation for phenomena in the present. Chap. 4 investigates central concepts such as time, change, duration, progress, decay, modernity, post-modernity, hypermodernity and fluid modernity, and argues for a new perspective on modernity. Chap. 5 investigates the concept and expansion of heritage. Chap. 6 investigates World Heritage as a modern innovation and offers a new understanding of its genesis. Chap. 7 returns to the paradoxes first observed at Abu Simbel, now on a global level and explaining why the paradoxes are inevitable.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Archaeology


Original languageEnglish
PublisherLund University Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019 Feb
Publication categoryResearch