Session Abstracts

Umbrella thematic area:

Traditional and Local Knowledge

• Arts
• Crafts
• Culinary Traditions
• Imagery
• Orality
as cultural constructs

Vassilis Ganiatsas,
Professor of Theory, Philosophy and Practice of Architectural/Urban/Landscape Design, National Technical University of Athens.

Intangible heritage came to be acknowledged by the ‘UNESCO convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage’ in 2003, as equal and complementary to what had been limited to material forms of cultural heritage. Intangible dimensions of tangible heritage and tangible dimensions of intangible heritage have been since discussed and incorporated to heritage management theories and practices. Along with the ever growing inclusiveness of stakeholders, cultural heritage is still expanding to include all forms of culturally significant aspects of world heritage.

Yet, complementarity and cultural inclusiveness aside, cultural heritage in its tangible or intangible versions, is still considered in an incremental and fragmented sense to be mitigated only by ever growing inclusiveness. No matter how comprehensively the heritage list grows, it seems still to lack understanding of its embedded and holistic nature which renders it socially valuable and culturally continuous. This is mainly due to the fragmented way of dealing with heritage in our being still bound to the scientific, positivist and instrumental western paradigm of knowledge that divides cultural expressions in order to acknowledge, understand, evaluate and manage accordingly.

What this paradigm is missing is the modes that heritage works in an embedded, in- teractive and interconnected mode as a consequence of which every cultural act becomes sensible in more than one ways in the context of other cultural acts that partake of same ongoing cultural continuum. Out of this problematic, what seems important and urgent to address in the 5th and 6th forthcoming conferences is heritage in its embedded tangible and intangible forms and vestiges under the generic title TRADITIONAL AND LOCAL KNOWLEDGE AS HERITAGE.


Legal and non-legal aspects to traditional and local knowledge


Irini Stamatoudi,
LL.M., Ph.D., Director, Hellenic Copyright Organisation.

Intangible cultural heritage (which encompasses traditional and local knowledge) can be an abstract issue but it can also be very specific; it can belong to the community but it can also belong to individuals; it may build on years of know-how but it may also be the outcome of further development through research and the use of new technologies. Intangible cultural heritahe has many facets, faces frictions and challenges, and at the same time gives rise to property issues.

This panel aims to explore all that. It aims to find out the friction between cultural heritage law, which aims to protect the interests of the State and the public at large, and copyright, which also serves the interests of the public but is primarily based on private rights. We will also look into the measures that the Greek State takes in order to protect traditional and local knowledge so as to preserve it for present and future generations. Lastly we will explore a rather innovative issue: Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) (1966-69), the fact that is influenced by classical legacies, both ancient Greco-Roman and early modern European and we will try to trace what its negotiation of those cultural legacies reveals about the attitudes of its makers and of its young but adult audience in the beginning of the entry into the post-industrial era.


Intangible heritage, local practices and institutional management: controversies, synergies and sustainability


Aris Anagnostopoulos,
Honorary Lecturer University of Kent, Director HERITΛGE Public.

Lena Stefanou,
Lecturer University of Kent, HERITΛGE Public.

In the contemporary history of thinking about culture, intangible heritage is a novel addition to the gamut of definitions and catchwords that constitute a practical and ideological register for heritage preservation. As a term, intangible heritage encompasses a very broad spectrum of social and cultural phenomena and as a result has received sustained criticism for its limited functionality as an analytic tool. Conversely, the practical aspect of this term, as it has developed in the institutional networks of states, NGOs and heritage institutions remains relatively under-theorised. Nowhere are the practical implications of intangible heritage more visible than on its impact on local communities. Institutional frameworks and new understandings of what is considered heritage influence the value hierarchies of societies as a whole or/and smaller groups of people. State and non-state institutions alike, mainly through funding, highlight aspects of heritage that are deemed preservation-worthy, and therefore shape the direction that local initiatives take.
This panel aims to examine practical applications of the concept and practice of intangible heritage and the ways in which local communities have used this practical-ideological concept to their own ends. We will explore issues related but not limited to the following: the institutionalised processes of legitimizing local heritage values, the interplay between professional expertise and local knowledge, the contribution of amateur interpretations and heritage practices to the formation of official heritage discourses, the extent to which sustainable livelihoods and indigenous heritage practices are threatened by institutionalised heritage management.

Advanced Heritage Technologies/ Digital Heritage


Anna Foka,
Associate Professor, Research Coordinator Umeå University.

Digital technology is transforming the assemblage and dissemination of historical information. Museums, libraries, archives, and universities increasingly modify their digital research infrastructures in order to make documentation data and intangible assets open, available and understandable for the wider audiences and future generations. The imminent assessment and representation of historical data has admittedly challenged the boundaries of historical knowledge and generated new research questions. The process of reconstructing, visualizing and rendering historical data has equally developed together with technology. Reconstructions are occasionally ‘frowned upon as inherently inauthentic imitations of real monuments. While the ocular-centric tradition of visual cues is dominant within humanities research more immersive platforms open up new sensory possibilities. It is commonly believed that intangible artefacts, such as dancing or soundscapes for example, leave no traces or evidence, meaning they cannot be reproduced in their entirety (Latour 1990; Classen, 1997; Howes, 2005; Favro 2006; Crane et al. 2009; Drucker 2013; Smithies 2013; Terras et al. 2013; Silberman 2015 Nygren et al. 2014, 2016; Chapman et al 2016; Foka and Arvidsson 2016; cf Foka et al. 2016, 2017; Westin and Claéson 2017; Westin et al. 2015, 2018).

This session entertains the idea that the lack of evidence is in fact present in any historical research, sensory or not, while western intellectual tradition has shown a marked preference for vision as the figure of knowledge. This session focuses on the processes that lead to visualizing/rendering intangible historical data within the disciplines of the broader cultural sector. ‘Intangible’ is often defined by the dominant  initiatives (UNESCO) as the term that replaced ‘folklore’ as referring to aspects of cultural heritage that are non-physical, estimated, incorporeal, unembodied, and disembodied. In this panel, in using the term intangible, we mean the historically invisible or complicated to render by digital means, the incomplete and, in general, all the aspects of local knowledge that small or bigger communities produced and created their cultural identity (Evens 2005).

Beyond reconstructions, and because of innovative digital tools, visualizations/renderings for historical disciplines can, more generally, vary from simple graphs to word clouds and geospatial, time-interactive maps. Early digital visualisations have accordingly provided insight into aspects of urban development and have facilitated critical discussions of the application of digital tools within the context of museology, conservation, urban planning, or the narratives of digital heritage (Vitale 2016). Early digital visualizations also made evident how existing digital tools and related models carry assumptions of knowledge as primarily visual, thus neglecting interactivity with the user/observer or, for example, sensory data.

Questions to consider:

  1. Current technological developments, such as augmented, mixed, or even virtual reality
  2. New modes of representation that call for new scientific questions and methods/solutions
  3. Issues in capturing the intangible and the senses
  4. Digital ubiquity and ethics.



Zeta Xekalaki, Archaeologist-Egyptologist. Social Media Manager Archaeology & Arts.

Workshop Managing Heritage Futures


Cornelius Holtorf,
Heritage Futures I Archaeology, School of Cultural Sciences, Linnaeus University.

It is often said that heritage needs to be preserved for the benefit for future generations. But when is that future and how do we best plan for the needs of humans living in that future, given that the future in many ways will differ from the present? – This 2-hour session begins with an introductory lecture by Cornelius Holtorf about Heritage of the Future, exploring some themes of a major international research programme on “Heritage Futures” (see This will be followed by an interactive discussion considering how the members of the audience impact the future through their work. We will explore how much we can know about the future and how to deal with uncertainty. The session aims at inspiring heritage professionals and students to think more about the future and to reflect on how their own work can make a difference in future societies. 

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