Cultural heritage

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Cultural heritage is a term which is currently used a lot and it is often portrayed as being important and a good thing. So what is it actually?

How is cultural heritage created, used and managed in our day and age, and how does it work? Cultural heritage and cultural monuments are the result of interactions between people and their surroundings, and between people. Their importance, context and consequences are covered by research, including research on cultural artefacts. This broader aspect of research on cultural heritage has emerged from the new social, cultural and economic roles being played by cultural heritage in social development.

This research group will investigate issues relating to the new roles being played by cultural heritage in social development and the relationship between cultural heritage and other contemporary phenomena, as well as future challenges. Research on cultural heritage will comprise such research on cultural and social phenomena which impact on the present and which derive their importance and legitimacy from the past. Relevant topics are as follows:

  • cultural heritage as a phenomenon and aspect of society (its participants, roles and institutions)
  • cultural heritage policy and democracy
  • cultural heritage, ideology and nation-building
  • world heritage and local communities
  • industrial cultural heritage
  • cultural landscapes
  • intangible cultural heritage
  • cultural heritage and integration
  • cultural heritage and childhood
  • cultural heritage and gender
  • cultural heritage, bodies and materiality
  • cultural monuments, conservation and usage

This field of research is divided into two parts: 1) use of cultural heritage and 2) cultural heritage policy. Both these include questions associated with central power and politics, including cultural heritage policy which comes under general cultural policy. The research group’s contribution shall be to deliver sound, independent critical research about various aspects of cultural heritage in use and cultural heritage policy, for the benefit of the field and policy.

Research disciplines

The researchers in this group possess a broad, often interdisciplinary approach to cultural heritage studies, primarily derived from interpretative disciplines relating to humanities and social sciences, such as history and cultural history, archaeology, human geography, cultural studies, sociology, social anthropology, history of religion, philosophy, musicology, ethnology, history of art and linguistic studies, etc. Also represented are researchers from the fields of geology, health studies, economics and teacher training studies.

Partners and networks

The researchers associated with this research group have a comprehensive national and international research network linked to current research projects, both individually and in small groups. Some of the large networks which address this topic include COST Action IS1007 Investigating Cultural Sustainability and Nordic and international networks for cultural policy research, with their associated journals. The research group will cooperate with the Norwegian sub-group, the Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACH), in which the NIKU (Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research), the NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) and the UiB (University of Bergen) are key participants.

The researchers associated with this research group cooperate with the managers of cultural monuments at various different levels, including Vestfold and Telemark County Council, the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage, the Bergen Municipal Cultural Heritage Management Office, the Geological Survey of Norway and the Oslo Municipal Cultural Heritage Management Office.

Research projects and publications


Leader of research group:

Steffen Fagernes Johannessen

Members of research group:

PhD candidates

National partners

Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU), University of Oslo (IAKH), University of Bergen (archeology), UiT The arctic university of Norway, Telemarksforsking (Telemark Research Institute), Norsk Folkemuseum, Norsk Teknisk Museum (Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology), NTNU University Museum (Vitenskapsmuseet), Norsk Industriarbeidermuseum (Norwegian Industrial Workers Museum, NIA) and Verdensarvsenteret (the World Heritage Centre), Vestfold and Telemark County Council/The Cultural Schoolbag Telemark, SaHo as

International partners

The University of Linköping, the University of Antwerp, the University of Leicester, the Norwegian Institute, Athens, the Berlin Institute of Technology, the Humboldt University of Berlin, Manchester Metropolitan University, the Ironbridge Institute, University of Birmingham, the University of Exeter, the Eindhoven University of Technology, Gothenburg University, Aarhus University, King’s College London, the Australian National University, Canberra, the University of Leeds, Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS)