From 13-15 March, the ICOMOS University Forum kicked off with a pilot workshop addressing “A Contemporary Provocation: Reconstruction as Tools of Future-making”, sponsored by Kyushu University (Japan). Some thirty specialists, both young researchers and senior professionals from around the world, met for discussions on authenticity and reconstruction at ICOMOS International in Paris.

Participants had been chosen on the basis of extended abstracts addressing central concerns about emerging challenges for heritage management posed by recent destructions caused by war or natural causes. Can the reconstruction of heritance play an important role in the process of re-building society in the wake of destructive events?

The question was discussed in three working groups, with one animateur responsible for “stirring the pot”. The groups dealt with: “From Nara to Nara+20: where is authenticity now?”; “Creating heritage – making futures?”; and “Conservation as management”. Each group discussed a wide range of concepts and ideas, helping participants in enhancing their own ideas and thus develop more thoughtful practices.

Over two and a half days there were very open and broad intellectual discussions. It became clear that neither reconstruction nor conservation (nor indeed destruction) are ever innocent. There are many relevant aspects to consider regarding how, in each case, the best outcome can be achieved for the people affected.

According to some participants, the workshop differed a lot from other ICOMOS meetings and more gatherings like this might be welcomed by many. Let’s see how the ICOMOS University Forum can develop in the future.

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