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EPFL academic guest to explore new frameworks for heritage

As the 2021 Academic Guest in EPFL’s College of Humanities (CDH), Peter Larsen, a senior lecturer and researcher in anthropology at the University of Zurich, plans to tackle under-addressed theoretical and practical questions at the intersection of heritage, creativity, and innovation.

Larsen, whose work focuses on natural and cultural heritage, sustainable development, and social equity, argues that a stronger conceptual framework is needed for what heritage is, how it is creatively used, and how people innovate over time. The pursuit of such a framework forms the basis of his CDH Academic Guest appointment, which he developed in collaboration with dhCenter member and CDH senior lecturer Florence Graezer Bideau in the Institute for Area and Global Studies (IAGS), and which will begin in January, 2021.

“Current definitions of heritage tend to be limited to what is considered ‘significant’. For example, the Lavaux region is a UNESCO World Heritage site, but this designation doesn’t tell us about the real practices of heritage: who manages it, who benefits from it, or new meanings and creative use of heritage materiality,” Larsen said in an article published on Monday on the CDH website.

“We need to stop being socially naïve about what heritage is, and get anthropologically real about how it intersects with ongoing dynamics of social, economic, and political transformation.”

During his appointment, Larsen plans to work closely with Bideau as well as other dhCenter members with interests in heritage, including Frédéric Kaplan (EPFL CDH Digital Humanities Lab) and Jérôme Baudry (EPFL CDH Lab for the History of Science and Technology).

In addition to creating synergies within the CDH, Larsen hopes to open doors further afield, notably through the organization of an international conference on heritage, creativity, and innovation, to be hosted on EPFL’s campus in mid-2021. He also plans to hold a workshop for PhD students.

Read the full article on the CDH website:  “We need to stop being socially naïve about what heritage is”. 21.12.2020. Celia Luterbacher, EPFL College of Humanities.