PhD workshop - Heritage: Premodern Perspectives. 6 - 8 October 2021

This workshop explores how modern notions of ‘heritage’ can be applied to the study of premodern societies and their views on cultural preservation and transmission.

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Giovanni Battista Pittoni the Elder. ca. 1730 - 1760 

Heritage is often understood as a modern notion. Its origins are commonly believed to lay in the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and in national (if not nationalist) agendas. Even the ever-growing interest in local, indigenous, and dissonant heritages in the fields of Heritage Studies and the Social Sciences have largely been restricted to (recent) modernity. Yet others have argued that there is little in many recent definitions of the term ‘heritage’ to restrict it to near-contemporary history and that certain practices in premodern Europe can comfortably be construed as compatible to types of activity that fall into the heritage rubric. 

In particular, the workshop addresses the following sets of questions:

  1. How can concepts and insights from modern Heritage Studies be applied to the study of premodern societies? And, vice versa, how can a longer historical analysis contribute to a better understanding of modern heritage? What are the dangers of anachronism? And how can these be tackled?
  2. How has the modern notion of ‘heritage’ developed? How is it rooted in earlier ideas about the engagement with significant objects, texts, and ideas from the remote past? How and why did ‘heritage’ emerge as the dominant concept?
  3. What alternative concepts and metaphors do we have to think and talk about heritage? For example: legacy, afterlife, survival, tradition. How do they work, and what are their conceptual gains and losses for understanding premodern heritage phenomena?

Organizers: Prof. Dr. Han Lamers, UiO and Dr. Christopher Siwicki, DniR (UiO)

More information: PhD workshop - Heritage: Premodern Perspectives - Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas (


Published May 7, 2021 4:49 PM - Last modified Sep. 6, 2021 10:13 AM