Online talk: Rethinking Heritage for development: International Framework, Local Impacts

Date and time of the event: Wed, 4 November 2020, 19:00 – 20:00 GMT

Join this online talk to hear about the latest research on how heritage has contributed to key dimensions of sustainable development

Since 2010, the United Nations has adopted no fewer than five major policy recommendations asserting that heritage (and culture) is a driver and an enabler of development. Yet, of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and accompanying 169 targets, only Target 11.4 mentions heritage.

If heritage is so fundamental to development, why has it been marginalised from the SDGs? What can be done to include better heritage in development frameworks?

In order to address these questions, Professor Labadi analyses past narratives and projects that aimed to demonstrate the contribution of heritage for development. The study of the past is thus used to explain the current situation. Starting from 1970, a comprehensive history of international approaches on heritage for development has been conducted. The research then assesses how these approaches have been implemented, adopted, adapted, transformed and resisted on the ground in international projects implemented by UNESCO in collaboration with other UN organisations in sub-Saharan Africa. These projects aimed to provide evidence for the contribution of culture (understood primarily as heritage) to poverty reduction, gender equality, and environmental sustainability in time for the negotiation of the SDGs.

During this online event, Professor Labadi will present some of her results. Provocative in its approach, this talk will focus on some of the key issues and contradictions preventing intangible and tangible heritage from contributing fully to sustainable development, as fundamental pre-requisites need to be met first. Professor Labadi will discuss in particular the danger with SDG 11.4 and its focus on the protection and safeguarding of heritage, which contributes to the continued opposition between heritage and development.

The understanding of authenticity as unchanging will further be discussed, as heritage and associated rights holders become frozen in time. Finally, the lack of consideration of heritage as political and as having some potentially negative impacts will also be considered.

This research is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Caligara Foundation. Its official partners are ICOMOS-UK and the African World Heritage Fund.

About the speaker

Sophia Labadi is Professor of Heritage at the University of Kent (UK) and an AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) Leadership Fellow. She also regularly acts as consultant for international organisations on projects and policy-making on culture. Professor Labadi has published widely on issues of migration and social justice in museums and on heritage and sustainable development. Her research has received many awards and she has been an invited scholar in institutions in Africa, the USA and the UK, including at Stanford University and the Getty Conservation Institute.

About attending this event

We decided to make this online event free to attend to remove financial barriers to its content. However, as many other cultural organisations, we had to cancel\postpone all of our in-venue events for 2020, which had a signficant impact on our income. Therefore, we encourage donations of any amount: your generosity contributes to our programme work and our running costs and makes more free events possible.

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This free event will be hosted through the videoconferencing platform Zoom Meetings. You can join this event through web browser or using the Zoom app.

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During the event, you will be able to contribute to the chat and Q&A, but your microphone and camera will not be on.