Heritage categories of UNESCO: Research and outreach

Research and outreach related to UNESCO’s categories of heritage is one of the focal point of the professorship and its team.

Scientific Achievements

Thomas Schmitt has been conducting research on the World Heritage regime and UNESCO’s concept of intangible heritage since the 2000s, in a predominantly qualitative-ethnographic research design. He was of the first researchers to introduce systematically the concept of scale (and the Multi-level-governance approach) on the World Heritage system, which structured the outline of the monography Schmitt 2011. This work analysed the global level of the World Heritage system (chap. 5), the role of intermediating national instances (chap. 6) and – in an exemplary case study – the local setting within the World Heritage system (chap. 7). The theoretical background of the scale concept was explored in chap. 2.4.4. In chap. 9, mutual interactions between institutions and corporative bodies at different scales, and scale-related political cultures were explored. 

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Heritage categories of UNESCO: Outreach

Since 2022, the professorship for cultural heritage and the protection of cultural property has organised several academic events related to the heritage categories of UNESCO:

In 2022, a public lecture series on “50 years UNESCO World Heritage Convention: assessment and perspectives”, was held at Heidelberg University (organisation: Thomas Schmitt & Christiane Wiesenfeldt), including contributions, among others, of Susan Denyer (ICOMOS), Tim Badman (IUCN), and a public interview talk with Mechtild Rössler, former director of the World heritage Center of UNESCO. Some of the contributions are recorded and online

Building on this lecture series, the German commission for UNESCO and HCCH organised a conference on: “Preserving World Heritage for the Future: Assessments and Perspectives on the 50th Anniversary of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention”. The conference is recorded and online

In summer term 2023, Thomas Schmitt curated the central Ruperto Carola lecture series with the topic “Intangible heritage: a resource for the future”, at the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the UNESCO Convention for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, including a round table discussion with scholars and practitioners of intangible heritage. The events are recorded and can be found online.

In Summer semester 2021, Thomas Schmitt (HCCH) and Romedio Schmitz-Esser (Historical Seminar) organised an online lecture series about “Cultural Heritage: Emotions and Significances” (Link zu Plakat), with contributions from Critical Heritage Studies, preservation of historic monuments, museum studies and memory studies.