Joint Sessions

The History of World Heritage Activities: Origins, Concepts and Actions
Session code
Date Time
Thursday, August 25th / 09.00-12.30
Caspar Andersen
Collegium Maius, 327

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – UNESCO – was founded in November 1945, and the Organization’s initial mission was to ensure peace and security by carrying out a considerable amount of mental engineering in the shadow of the aggression of World War II.
The organization’s work in the field of world heritage became world famous with the Nubia campaign, launched in 1960. This was the first and largest in a series of campaigns that included campaigns in Venice in Italy, Borobodur in Indonesia and Angkor in Cambodia.
This work led to the adoption, in 1972, of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. A World Heritage Committee was established and the first sites were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1978. Today more than a thousand sites are listed, and the World Heritage Programme is now UNESCO’s most widely known and prestigious undertaking.
This session looks at how the concept of heritage emerged before UNESCO in an environment of both competition and collaboration in the era of imperialism and within the framework of the League of Nations. It uncovers how the UNESCO’s World Heritage programme came into existence and highlights its specific and practical outcome, such as its major conservation campaigns and its work for integrating natural and cultural heritage. It looks at its intended as well as unintended impact seen from within UNESCO and with the eyes of an archaeologist from outside the Organization, and finally presents and discusses the sources that historians and other interested can find and use in relation to the study of the history of UNESCO and its world heritage activities.